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Apollo and the other Muses

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According to Stravinsky, the three Muses in the ballet Apollo were chosen for their suitability to choreography. "Calliope personified poetry and its rhythm; Polyhymnia represents mime; Terpsichore, combining in herself both the rhythm and the eloquence of gesture, reveals dancing to the world and thus among the Muses takes the place of honor beside Apollo."

Calliope is actually the muse of epic poetry and eloquence, as she consistently demonstrates on this board. Polyhymnia is the Muse of oratory and sacred poetry. Terpsichore, of choral song and dance.

There are six other Muses: Euterpe, of music or lyric poetry; Erato, of love poetry (and crossword puzzles); Clio, history; Melpomene, tragedy; Urania, astronomy; Thalia, comedy.

Suppose that, in the immortal words of NYCB program inserts, "due to illness and injury" Calliope, Polyhymnia, and Terpsichore, were unable to perform. Which of the remaining Muses do you think would make suitable partners for Apollo? Feel free to change Balanchine's choreography as appropriate.

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I'd have to vote for Euterpe, Erato and Melpomene: I can see him with lyricism, love and tragedy. I think the pas de deux would be with Erato, the variation now belonging to Polyhymnia could go to Melpomene and the one now done by Calliope to Euterpe, but we might have to change the steps just a little.

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Ashton featured Apollo and three muses in his Creatures of Prometheus and he chose Thalia, Melepomene and Terpsichore (who was strangely reminiscent of a former Royal Ballet director/ choreographer:). His Apollo was a largely mimed role however. I suspect he thought Balanchine had said everything about that particular God................

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I'd choose Clio (or Melpomene if Clio is injured) for Calliope, Erato for Polyhymnia, and Euterpe for Terpsichore.

Calliope appears with a writing tablet (good for history), and the music for her variation contains those dramatic 'stabbing' chords (which was what first made me think of Melpomene). However, the music is also based on that weighty verse form, the Alexandrine - there's a cello solo which almost sounds as if the phrases are too long: Stravinsky's sense of humour coming through.

The music for Polyhymnia's variation moves more quickly; it's almost skittish. I could see Erato darting around to this (and it always seems to me that Cupid has a sense of fun, so perhaps Erato could follow his example).

Euterpe as the muse of music and lyric poetry would seem to me to be the one most pleasing to Apollo - and the pas-de-deux is a very lyrical and gentle piece. I'm hope that Mr B, as a fine musician himself, would have approved!

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