Balanchine’s Ballade Ballade

Merrill Ashley, Ib Andersen – Balanchine’s Ballade, illustration courtesy of The George Balanchine Trust


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24 thoughts on “Balanchine’s Ballade Ballade

  1. This is a very thoughtful and complex piece. I find that there is a real balance between a traditional and more modern form. The language on one hand feels traditional – but the structure, form, and story told definately evolve it from being ‘just’ a ballade (if there is such a thing). I saw a metaphor of the changing nature of ballet- and how naturally over time, as the dance gets taken on by new blood- it naturally must change. This was really elegant and so intricately carved. Very well done!

  2. A lot going on here–both as a work of poetry and commentary. A lot of success on all levels. I love Faure. (Diaghelev and Ballanchine okay too! Ha!) And, of course, Igor. Such an interesting time. I think there were riots after the Rites of Spring, and one audience member drummed on the bald head of the guy in front of him. K.

  3. Yes, and Picasso was in the mix too. Stravinsky was such an artist but I think the atmosphere affected everyone. There was much mixing and mingling and seeing one another’s work and commenting on it. They were talking manifests, color, symbolism, novelty, new ideas, psychology, science, engineering, transportation while trying to keep warm. They met in cafes and each other’s dwellings or studios. The poets made the rounds, scrounging food. It must have been mad times!

  4. no, i don’t like it….i LOVE it gay!! the perfect poem to capture the spirit of this time…i would’ve loved to sit in these bars, and cafes of Montparnasse where art was born and developed and spiraled into new galaxies… what a adventurous time, what walking on the edge as well..what a well of new ideas…and your poem just mirrors this in a masterful way..

  5. This is a form that has really grabbed me gay – i’m working at the moment but i’ve taken notes and shall be trying my hand – what i fine example you have given – rules hah! – meant to be broken – lol
    without rule breaking – no modernism… thank you gay :)

  6. Arron – throw the dishes at the wall, dance a fandango in homage to the Spaniards – Picasso, Gris, Miro. Or try solo steps like Gene Kelly in American in Paris. Poetry is a painting, is a dance, is a production (ah Parade!) a music hall, a love song, a poster, a graffiti, a tattoo of life on the cave of the artist!

    • Oh Anthony thank you for the comment! Actually even though I was a little intimidated by it at first, it’s not too bad if you follow the steps. The trick is finding the refrain and then it seems to fall into place. I was glad not to have to end rhyme. It made it easier to wrap. You should try it. You might find it fun. Brian did!

  7. gay this is awesome…of course i have the ballet hook as well with my wife…but this is so much more than that as well…love how you bring all of this together…art is def mixed in my blood…and i love it when people make those radical leaps of theirs dancing the edge…had to stop in for some inspiration as i dance mine…

  8. I’m so pleased you like it. Your poetry always does things – dances, flies, leaps, turns around twice and lands on a back outside edge. Possibly quad rotates and lands clean on a back outside edge! That’s saying something or maybe too much. I am curiously pleased with this Ballade Ballade and have no idea why. (maybe because the title sounds so gertrude stein) Thank you!

  9. Thank you Caty. Yes I finally get to the dance itself (third act as it were). I painted the scene, and filled in the music before it finally arrived. You can’t have the ballet until the work is done and it was in this way that the Ballet Russe acted as a magnet for painters, poets, and musicians to meet one another slightly off their usual paths. Satie came to Picasso to paint the scenery for The Rites of Spring and then monopolized him, not leaving Stravinsky time to discuss “modernity” with M.Picasso. From what I’ve read there were more dramatic moments among the artists working to prepare the dances than there were in them, although I’m sure the ballets were wonderful. They were written about in the letters of Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson telling the folks in the U.S. about the amazing variety of art in Paris.

  10. All rules aside, I think this is a magnificent piece of work. I’m in awe of the way you have used difficult terms, other languages and a most apposite theme, all within the boundaries of this tricky form. Kudos.

    • Thank you Kerry. It took some considering and thinking but once I found the refrain which is a paraphrase a summation of the description of the dance in the notes to it..I was on my way. I thought how perfectly that describes what artists do. (as well as lovers) is to come together, to commune, to throw thoughts and ideas into a stew on the table, into cups, onto bars, and then return to each one’s private world to make it happen. That set the last rhyme (which was lucky that it worked!) and I set out writing to it more or less.

  11. really nice. i’ve seen some Balanchine productions at the City Ballet, i loved them. I got to see Jewels, for example.

    really nice poem. so hard to write. thanks for sharing.

  12. A difficult poem, complex…and it mirrors a difficult cultural time. What a whirlwind it must have been, with the drums of war on the horizon, the Russian Revolution somewhere in there, and the influx of cultures headed to Paris!

    “and they returned to their private worlds” means to me something different? The art and LABOR of ballet, the consistent sacrifice of body, health, and the exhaustion….the bones for all of this is laid down in returning to the private world of a dancer….where their bodies were broken down and remade into the forms ‘acceptable’ for dance. A grueling discipline, a constant discipline.

    Faure, Nijinsky, Cezanne, Picasso, the Ballet Russe, etc….these are the ghosts of a past that never will be again. The conditions of the world have so radically changed that this possibility does not come again…but what a time of incredible drama, invention, creativity and transcendence.

    Your explanation at the end, Gay, is necessary. We have forgotten these forms, art and what has gone into their making.

    By the way, one of my later belly dance teachers was originally from the Ballet Russe….which speaks to her marvelous form and discipline, and also the the transcendence of discipline from one form to another.

    Elegant, elegant, elegant poem, Gay….complex and like a sound bite of history that has fallen to the mists. You have brought to life, again….. a time of incredible beauty.

    Lady Nyo

  13. This was such a pleasure to read aloud! It sings with turn-of-the-century allusions, with historical vignettes, and walk-ons from literary and artistic personages. It’s like a magic trick, a ballade on a ballade, a prestidigital tour-de-force. And I’m sure – extremely fun to have written. Bravo!

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