The Purchase of Light with Blood 

​Ballet, like opera, is wonderful because it is monstrous, the hyper-development of skills nobody needs, a twisting of human bodies and souls into impossible positions, the purchase of light with blood.

—Irina Dumitrescu | Longreads | February 2017

Yes, this: especially, “…the purchase of light with blood.”

You can read Dumitrescu’s entire piece about coming to ballet as an adult beginner here:

Swan, Late @ Longreads. 

For what it’s worth, this is one of the things that appeals to me about dance and especially ballet: my body is strange, but in the studio is strangeness is an asset. Ballet takes all the elements of potential immanent in this body and makes from them something beautiful not in spite of, but because of, its strangeness.  

PS: Modern went well today, even though I came into it sleep-deprived as all hell. Notes later, maybe. 

About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Neuro-atypical. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2017/02/07, in balllet, life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. The piece is a cracker. It also reminds me that I often think ballet is startlingly *metal*. “The Purchase Of Light With Blood” sounds like the title of a lost Black Sabbath album. And the thing about being monstrous, well.

    I must remember to tell Mara the scary bunhead she’s looking like a monster tonight.

    Or, you know, not.

  2. Well, I was more of a monstrosity this evening. Huge class, unusually cranky Capt. Marmite, new girl in front of me on the barre, and I decided for some reason to skip my usual sugar fix before class. Marmite decided to switch up barre by subtly changing a lot of counts, as well as chucking in a hellish thing with an attitude devant balance.

    Then he cut barre short after 45 mins to do a lot more centre. this was pretty awesome really, but the back story is that someone complained about his Sunday class. Apparently “it wasn’t ballet” and he was “scurrilous”. So he’s got a grudge against the world. Also, the school might be moving and it’s not clear if the adult program will run on. So he’s got another grudge, although it was a lot to expect them to keep his spot while he went to Germany for nine months.

    We ended up jumping a hell of a lot (I realise I haven’t had any travelling jumps since modern recital before Christmas), while he remarked that it was a crucial element of Balanchine technique that you developpé in one count and we might never get to do it again, and said he wanted to die young all things considered. So yeah, metal. Also told us that the uterus must be held.

    • I’m guessing this is less “cradle the uterus gently” than “REIN THAT PUPPY IN!” I will be sure to remind my flock of girls to hold their uteri. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!

      To be fair, if my class called me scurrilous, I’d probably murder them with jumps and B-technique as well 😉

      BW and Captain Marmite must be telepathically connected (though, to be fair, in my case, I asked for jumps). He gave me one combination that went: pique arabesque, chassé-tour jeté TIMES 4, tombé pas de bourré glissade pas de chat, tombé pas de bourre glissade saut de chat. Four tour jetés will get you all the way across the long diagonal of the studio in question, or perhaps there might have been more.

      I did this way better on the left side.

      Then we did tours en lair: right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left.

      Twice, I think, though I may have become confused in the haze of battle. The grand allegro I only did once each side (I say “I” because I was the only student tonight).

      All of this followed turns à la seconde (which went beautifully left, if a little less so right) and a whole bunch of petit allegro that was slow enough to demand lofty jumps and really clean technique, which in turn meant we ran the combinations twice.

      Ultimately I’m a masochist and I adore BW, so this adds up to one hell of a good class (especially since he praised my turnout—honestly, if I were to assign him a nickname, he’d be Captain Turnout, because his is quite literally perfect—a clean 180 with “all the way around feet,” to borrow one of your quotes, that add a few extra degrees).

      I did not die. I did decide that, yes, I really need to add some cardio into my routine, because holy chromoly.

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