Quotes Tagged "dance"
For some reason, the sight of snow descending on fire always makes me think of the ancient world – legionaries in sheepskin warming themselves at a brazier: mountain altars where offerings glow between wintry pillars; centaurs with torches cantering beside a frozen sea – scattered, unco-ordinated shapes from a fabulous past, infinitely removed from life; and yet bringing with them memories of things real and imagined. These classical projections, and something in the physical attitudes of the men themselves as they turned from the fire, suddenly suggested Poussin’s scene in which the Seasons, hand in hand and facing outward, tread in rhythm to the notes of the lyre that the winged and naked greybeard plays. The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality: of human beings, facing outwards like the Seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure: stepping slowly, methodically, sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognisable shape: or breaking into seeminly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle: unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance.
I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
It was music first of all that brought us together. Without being professionals or virtuosos, we were all passionate lovers of music; but Serge dreamed of devoting himself entirely to the art. All the time he was studying law along with us, he took singing lessons with Cotogni, the famous baritone of the Italian Opera; while for musical theory, which he wanted to master completely so as to rival Moussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, he went to the very source and studied with Rimsky-Korsakov. However, our musical tastes were not always the same. The quality our group valued most was what the Germans call Stimmung, and besides this, the power of suggestion and dramatic force. The Bach of the Passions, Gluck, Schubert, Wagner and the Russian composers – Borodin in ‘Prince Igor’, Rimsky and, above all, Tchaikovsky, were our gods. Tchaikovsky’s ‘Queen of Spades’ had just been performed for the first time at the Opera of St Petersburg, and we were ecstatic about its Hoffmannesque element, notably the scene in the old Countess’s bedroom. We liked the composer’s famous Romances much less, finding them insipid and sometimes trivial. These Romances, however, were just what Diaghilev liked. What he valued most was broad melody, and in particular whatever gave a singer the chance to display the sensuous qualities of his voice. During the years of his apprenticeship he bore our criticisms and jokes with resignation, but as he learned more about music – and about the history of art in general – he gained in self-confidence and found reasons to justify his predilections. There came a time when not only did he dare to withstand our attacks but went on to refute our arguments fiercely.