The Majesty of Balanchine's "Serenade"

George Balanchine's "Serenade," set to Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings in C," is one amazing work of art. Last night I saw it for the second time and it took my breath away. Everyone at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and especially the dancers who performed "Serenade," should feel very proud. After the performance I was feeling perplexed. I was quite certain that what I had just experienced was a gift of beauty of the highest order. At the same time, I had absolutely no sense of what it meant. So there's a question: does beauty need to mean something or can it just "be"? Balanchine offers just a bare tease of a story in this ballet. It's a tease I rejected: the only interpretive sense I could imagine was oriented towards geometry as a metaphor for the richness of human experience. Our lives are like lines, waves, circles... growing complex, doing and undoing, knotting and unknotting.  We are bodily creatures and "our" bodies (Balanchine is almost exclusively concerned with the female form here) are beautiful and sacred. Unfortunately, and this ballet's narrative thread reminds us, it's all temporal. Death awaits.
Feeling tremendously intrigued by this masterpiece, I did a quick search this morning and came across this interesting essay
I can't wait to see it again tomorrow! And I just happened to get NYCB's 2011-12 season brochure and they will be performing Serenade next May. Hope I can go.

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