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An apt comparison?

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I always find these tags and labels amusing. It's usually the sign of lazy writing. ("He's the Micheangelo of snowboarding!")

But this one is kind of fun.

Wouldn't Martha Graham get the Picasso tag? Though it's an uneasy fit, they both explored the psychological and archetypal content of their art forms, without regard to the classical, baroque, romantic or neo-classical heritage. They were the pioneers (avant garde) of what is now called Modernism. (Cunningham = Pollock?)

I think that while Balanchine explored modernism, he remained very faithful to the vocabulary of classical dance, never giving up his search for beauty in movement to explore the ugliness of the interior human landscape. To equate him with Picasso robs both these geniuses of large tracts of brilliantly explored worlds.

I will grant that their paths were similar in that they both kept discovering new approaches, new forms, new ways to stretch the canvas.

And also quite apparent is their parallel multi-muse-ing.

I think they both liked to eat, too.

So who would Balanchine line up with in the Art realm?

It would have to be someone who brought the 19th century technique to new life in the 20th. What about his mythic pieces, his playful odes, his tributes to other styles?

Pretty quickly one realizes there's no comparison. It would take a list of about eight artists from Monet to Eakins to Lichtenstein and it still wouldn't really cover it all.

Which brings me back to my initial chuckle over how silly these equations are...


(The John Updike of internet posters)

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Hi, Warren G! Glad you joined us. could you regale us with some of your ballet memories? :D

I agree -- I guess he picked out "Picasso" because that's the one "modern" artist most people would know. But I don't think the comparison goes much deeper.

I like the Michaelangelo of snowboarding. You'll probably hear that this winter on TV sports coverage.

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In their biography of Balanchine, Richard Buckle and John Taras quote from what Herbert Saal wrote in Newsweek after Balanchine died:

"George Balanchine deplored inflated reputations. 'Why must everything be great?' he used to say. 'Isn't "good" good enough? Everyone's overrated. Picasso's overrated. I'm overrated, even Jack Benny's overrated.'

But then Saal went on: "By liberating dance from story, by restlessly experimenting, by combining old and new, Balanchine stands beside Picasso and Stravinsky. But while they worked in accepted and respected mediums, Balanchine practiced what was still a second-class art. His most awesome achievement was that he elevated ballet almost single-handedly from a place below the salt to a seat at the head of the table."

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We're starting to play a game of "Stravinsky/Kandinsky" here, where you take the name of a personality in one field of endeavor and rhyme the name with another figure in the same sort of style and ethos in another field of endeavor. Thus the name of the game!:D Brothers and others possessing the exact same name as James(William) and James(Henry) are not exactly cricket, but not forbidden, either. Names which merely rhyme, but have no similarity other than that are, however, right out, as Willkie(Wendell)/Rilke(Rainer Maria).

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Thanks for the quote, Farrell Fan. It reminds me that I've seen Balanchine bracketed with Stravinsky and Picasso as a sort of 20th century Big Three before, and I think the reference is to the all-encompassing influence each had on his respective art form. I remember an anecdote about Jackson Pollock that has him throwing a book of Picasso prints to the ground and saying in frustration, Damn it, the guy missed nothing.

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Actually, would that Peter Martins were Rochester! Eddie Anderson played that part as a Pseudolus, the classic Roman comedy part of the clever servant who sees through the hare-brained schemes of those around him, including his Boss, to accomplish what was best for all concerned. Anderson was a remarkable character actor, who, after he retired became famous for his philanthropies!

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