08 March 2007

Dancing Sitting Down

On a blog I visit daily the subject of Baryshnikov came up in passing because several people had seen the Charlie Rose interview the previous night. I related that his is the one and only autograph I had ever requested simply because I wanted it on the poem by Joseph Brodsky that was dedicated to him.

In addition to the autograph, I have a rare photograph that is a copy of one that appears in Nina Alovert's Baryshnikov in Russia. It required special permission from the publisher to copy. It is remarkable because his head is down so that you can't see the face, and he is sitting on the floor wearing a simple black leotard, yet no one has ever failed to identify the person in the picture.

It is absolute proof that you don't have to be able to move in order to dance. You have no way of knowing if he just finished and is resting or is just waiting to leap up and begin yet the dance is so obviously in his head that there is no doubt that it is happening.

From "Classical Ballet" by Joseph Brodsky

How splendid late at night, Old Russia worlds apart,
to watch Baryshnikov, his talent still as forceful!
The effort of the calf, the quivering of the torso
rotating round its axis, start

a flight such as the soul has yearned for from the fates,
as old maids cherish dreams while turning into bitches,
And as for where in space and time one's toe end touches,
well, earth is hard all over; try the States.

At 59 he can no longer do the incredible leaps that actually made you believe that this time gravity wouldn't win and a man would finally fly without benefit of wings. Instead he now dances with an artistic tension so strong that somehow in your mind's eye you can still see him soar.


BBC said...


Just letting you know that I dropped in.

Jamie said...

Thanks for stopping by. You don't have to lover everything. :-)