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By James D. Carney

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How could I quit school? It meant turning my back on the sacrifices my parents had made on my behalf, and the goals they had set out for me. But I had to do something. I had to choose my own life. Tension built as time passed. I worried I would never be able to get myself back into the proper condition to dance again. I talked about it all the time. I was trying to talk myself into going back, and people got tired of hearing me complain. 31 EDWARD VILLELLA 32 They started to make fun of me in a good-natured way.

Here I formed an impression of what serious art could be. Stars was all fun and wit. Agon was much more complicated, and its music by Igor Stravinsky was absolutely unsettling. I'd never heard a score like that, and it took me a very long time to understand it. Before this, I had worked only with scores that had a simple and regulated beat. My SAB training hadn't prepared me for musical challenges or given me a complete sense of musicality. Musicality is the relation of the attack within the dance movement to the music.

They seemed to fill the space in the studio. Energy had doubled since Stravinsky's arrival, and now everything in the room was orbiting slowly around the startling vitality Stravinsky and Balanchine were generating. In a few moments, Balanchine went to work again with the dancers. Occasionally, he'd stop and turn to the composer, and the two of them would savor the moment. What a thrill to see them collaborate. The pleasure they took in the work, their compatibility, not only as Russians and colleagues but as artists, was palpable.

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A Historical Theory of Art Criticism by James D. Carney


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