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Svetlana Zakharova and Andre Merkuriev of the Mariinsky Ballet performing the pas de deux from In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated

William Forsythe

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Three Chapter 10

With the applause my beating heart conspires to leave me breathless; I look into your eyes and see you are as stunned as I. What have we witnessed? Spiders in mating display? Matador and bull in the ceremonial kill? Karateka demonstrating combat stances? Aye, from our seats in the grand circle, we have seen the reinvention of ballet; we have seen the vestiges of academic virtuosity extended, accelerated and given a power that electrified the stage. Yes, in the Palais Garnier, two dancers in a pas de deux astounded us. Did they feel in their vertebrae, did they sense in their sinews, that this choreography is destined to endure? As the purity of their movements burned away all embellishments, did they know the erotic charge they were generating would lay bare our hearts? Unearthly angles and undulations, the steely majesty of wrenching turns: Who is the man with such a kinetic imagination? Helical motion and counter curvature, audacious extensions and volumetric form; off-kilter dynamics and casual contortions, high kicks and thrusting hips: Who is the master that conceived this miracle? Feline, vulpine, feminine, the sex and venom in a push-pull attack; virile, fluid, visceral, the violence and grace of a split kick snapped back: Who is the man who, in mingling the demonic and the divine, has resuscitated the corpse of classical dance? Forsythe. William Forsythe.

Was it his freedom that allowed him to turn the page on the past while preserving it in palimpsest? Was it his freedom that inspired the composer to write such unremittingly ecstatic music—telluric, architectonic, empyrean? Aye, was it his freedom that gave a spring to our step, a grace to our stride, as we stepped, hand-in-hand, into the night outside?

Kazimir Malevich, Suprematic, circa 1915-20