No beauty not won through pain

Ballet: Agony of the Feet” by Tim Burton
Taken from The Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, September 6,1998
…There is grace and nobility in those feet.

It may not be physical, like dancing en pointe…


…but beneath the achievement of grace–in whatever art, there is a form of torture, peculiar to the art, that lies unseen to others, and without which–that grace will never be achieved.

I remembered that article when I read a post on my beautiful machine/danseur ignoble. Asher writes about dance–not in the abstract, not as one who is watching, but from and out of the experience of their body. Muscles. Bones. Joints. Is it that dance is to the body as mind is to the brain?

Asher’s style is direct, unadorned–it’s the language of the barre, of the pianist learning scales, of listening to the body with such finely tuned perception that the body learns to hear itself without intervention, without intention.

I think of those time lapse photos where you see the body of the moving dancer following as though pure spirit, pure dance–a veil of movement. Asher doesn’t say much about that. He writes of what you see in the image of those beautiful, damaged feet in the photo above. Of the pain, the exhaustion–and the exhilaration of learning, of stretching every muscle and joint toward the impossible: toward perfection.
This is how an artist does philosophy. Read their posts, and learn.

2 thoughts on “No beauty not won through pain

  1. Wow … thank you! I am really, really touched by this — it’s heartening. I always sort of think of my ballet blog as kind of a largely-fluffy exercise in trying to remember what the process of becoming a dancer again has been like; to hear it described in these words really makes me feel like it’s more than that, which is amazing. Art sneaks up on us like that sometimes.

    Thank you again. I can’t even figure out how to express how much this means to me or what I’m feeling right now, but I can tell you that it’s amazing and good!


  2. “Art sneaks up on us”

    I think that speaks to why one has to be careful when you get really good as something… if you don’t push yourself beyond what you already know–you always see it coming… but it, ain’t the art. To school oneself in surprise… ah, that’s the trick! Little kids are good at that! They can jump with fear and delight a hundred times in a row when you pull the mask over your face and say, BOO!

    Liked by 1 person

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