Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996) was a writer and ballet critic. In 1946, together with George Balanchine, Kirstein founded the Ballet Society, which would soon be renamed The New York City Ballet. In 1984 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Monstrous Itch

“Dancing was It. Dancing was what life was all about. If you wanted to be a dancer, you didn’t just want it, you felt chosen to be one. You see, dancing was more of an obligation than a whim. It’s a religion, a monstrous itch, a huge and illogical church.

Provocateur

The very notion of poet laureate summons up a figure of fun. This in no way denigrates our present national incumbent, certainly a most appropriate choice. But if one admits the faint risibility of certain verses by past laurel-crowned Britons, the chief of current comedians in the observance of public …

Beliefs of a Master

for Father Adrian When George Balanchine set foot on Manhattan in the autumn of 1933, he and his colleagues were so preoccupied with confusing circumstances, inevitable in founding any ambitious institution, that while formulating an overall educational morality was not ignored, its expression was delayed. However, after our fledgling …

On Edwin Denby

Edwin Denby is well known as an impressive dance critic. By the time he was sixty, the two volumes of his collected notices from the Forties and Fifties were taken as basic theatrical history.[^1] Although his particular attention referred to performances no longer visible, moral and aesthetic judgment illuminated current …

Maker and Teacher

A printed listing of the works of George Balanchine may be set alongside the Köchel catalogue of Mozart: the works of choreographer and composer share many qualities. Balanchine has been extremely prolific. For over fifty years his invention has been uninterrupted. There has been hardly a season since he was …

Uncle Wiz the Wizard

This capacious, cautious, splendid biography commences with its author’s caveat: “It is not a book of literary criticism.” It ably shows how certain writings developed from instances of a lifetime. “I hope I have also managed to convey my own huge enthusiasm for his poetry.” Here Carpenter triumphs where others …

Lincoln Shelter

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., shelters opera, instrumental music, dance, drama, film, the Juilliard School, and a research branch of the New York Public Library. It has operated since 1962, time enough to call for more than congratulations. Pebble-aggregate paving around the central fountain needs granite replacement.[^1] Carpeted …

The Eyes of Ez

From adolescence to about 1934, Ezra Pound had considerable curiosity about plastic art, parallel to his curiosity about music. His verse, prime reliquary of his genius, is compact with vivid visual imagery: Autumn moon; hills rise above lakes against sunset Evening is like a curtain of cloud, …

The Animal Himself

It is rare indeed that there appears a “picture-book” which in every way, material, editing, production, achieves an excellence worthy of its subject. This monumental gathering of photographs of the most familiar American face amounts to a collective portrait which no contemporary artist caught with lasting satisfaction, and whose two …

Great Dane

The current emergence of Bournonville (1805-1879) in the United States as a formative presence in the descent of academic classic dancing is of concern and complexity. From festivals organized in Copenhagen by the Royal Danish Ballet whose tutelary genius he was and is, and its American tours, we have been …

The Instigator

The big OED has “Impresario: from Italian impresa;—undertaking, attempt, device. The undertaker of any business, contractor, etc. One who organises public entertainments, especially the manager of an operatic or concert company.” “Impresario” is the tag attached to Sergei Pavlovitch Diaghilev (1872-1929). The Oxford definition ignores the present interest in ballet …

The Ballet and the Public: Notes from a Diary

JUNE, 1976: NEW YORK Lincoln Center Council meeting. I was called to defend the New York City Ballet in refusing to be televised for “Live from Lincoln Center” programs. Since money involved is derisory and artistic increment nil, I was something less than polite. Other constituents feel this purely negative …

Mind and Body

Theatrical criticism is surely one of the most awkward, slippery, and transient of all observant crafts. Its ephemeral reference corresponds to the fragility of the performances it recalls. The artifact, the printed word, persists for judgment; staged action instantaneously becomes matter for ambiguous and fading memory. There is repertory, of …

Pavilions

Mr. I. Solomon, the cloak-&-suit merchant    Guards a taut ulcerated colon; Hospitalized for surgery; not too urgent;    He’s still got lots to go on: Seventy-six, with stout heart, a stouter wife,—    Despite the season’s heat,— It’s good, nevertheless: what’s left of life.    Life …

On Stravinsky

This is part of an essay appearing in the program of the Stravinsky Festival at Lincoln Center, June 18-25. Stravinsky (with Max Planck, Einstein, Picasso, Joyce) proposed new dimensions for timing and spacing before the First World War. Le Sacre du Printemps was clarion for a proliferation of forces already …