Balanchine’s Plot

The great choreographers have all been more than dancemakers, none more so than George Balanchine. He was in truth one of the supreme dramatists of the theater, but he specialized in plotless ballets with no named characters or written scenarios, and so this aspect of his genius has gone largely unexamined. Instead, everyone accepts the notion — it has become the greatest platitude about him — that he was the most musical of choreographers — a notion that, for all his musical virtues, should be qualified in several respects. Even at this late date, there is much about Balanchine that we still need to under-stand. He belongs in the small august company of modern artists who shattered the distinction between abstraction and representation. His work renders such categories useless. Balanchine’s dance creations often eliminate ingredients that others regarded as the quintessence of theater. The performers of his works are verbally

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