Features September 1983
The mystery of Terpsichore: Balanchine, Stravinsky and “Apollo”
On music and ballet.
In Paris in 1928, when classical dance was démodé, Balanchine created a ballet that prompted Diaghilev to remark at a rehearsal: “What he is doing is magnificent. It is pure classicism such as we have not seen since Petipa’s.”
But Balanchine’s Apollo was not a mere re-creation of Petipa classicism. It represented a new classical ballet style, one that would come to be called neoclassical. As always, music was Balanchine’s inspiration—though he disliked the word, preferring to say that certain music “moved” him to try to make it visible.
The music that moved Balanchine most was Stravinsky’s. In the case of Apollo, Stravinsky’s music seems to have provided not only the impetus for a ballet but the basis for a personal...
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