Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday commute lv: the interval at the matinée

 Two very lively and very real 
 young persons love each other 
 and are about to marry. But 
 the boy is struck by the sight 
 of a mysterious stranger, the  beautiful Coppélia, who sits 
 on a balcony. Naturally, his 
 first girl is vexed and hurt. 
 That night the mysterious 
 Coppélia turns out to be only 
 a mechanical doll.

      The flesh-and-blood girl 
      breaks the doll, she harries 
      the old dollmaker, she even 
      rescues the boy, whom the 
      dollmaker has drugged with 
      a sinister intent.

The boy acknowledges his fault, 
and the next day there is a 
celebration at which the local 
duke pays for everything, the 
boys and girls all get married 
and get money, and everybody 
watches dancing and dances 
happily, too.

Critics have claimed that the celebration scene added nothing and could as well have been omitted. It cannot, because you haven't until then seen the boy and girl dance together and exhibit all their virtuosity, their combined dance power at its highest pitch. When you have seen their motions and physical proportions beautifully balanced, when you see them harmoniously overcoming impossible difficulties, you have seen a convincing image of what would make two young lovers happy in marriage.

    As you watch the dance you notice 
    how the more perturbing the emotion 
    becomes, the purer becomes the move-
    ment of dancing and the more open 
    and free the dancer's bearing. You 
    see the magic of the heart's sincer-
    ity, its most urgent necessity, trans-
    form a village girl into a grand and 
    gracious ballerina. And what a solace 
    the transformation is!

Edwin Denby
Coppélia tells the facts of life
  New York Herald Tribune
  September 24, 1944
Dance Writings & Poetry
Robert Cornfield, editor
Yale University Press, 1998©


  1. the man in the leather pants can be my doll any day of the story

  2. Possibly you've been smoking with the evil dollmaker, dear Reader? This is the Ryan König prototype for the 2012-2013 season, the original having been smashed so long ago, as reported above. Purists will miss the Marlene Dietrich version, of course; but when do they not? 'Tis the season for a new production, I'm afraid, and there we are.

    Nice of you to drop in. Apart from the possibly tiresome (?) visual merits of this entry, I think it probably gained by allowing Denby's paean to "the facts of life" stand by itself, such as it may; but out of the 972 readers who saw it since it went up at 9 this morning, you are the only one to have remarked on it. It mightn't have happened at all if I hadn't been corresponding with Derek about sliding into second base (a thing we do in baseball, whether we need to or not). For my part, I intend to find out how much the Duke paid the happy couple to get married, and whether this would be taxed as a return on capital or straight income.