The Twilight of the Gods

I had another thought regarding the fall of ballet and how it is a result of the 21st century social network culture.

I've been thinking a lot about when the fall began.  Perhaps it was around the time George Balanchine passed away in 1983.  All at once, the ballet world had no figurehead, no monumental force of nature to act with or rebel against.  The winds of momentum behind the culture of ballet died down and entered a dead calm stage.  This was only sporadically interrupted a few years later with Gelsey Kirkland's blockbuster auto-biography.  It is telling that the only disruptions to the still waters were autobiographies by Balanchine's many ballet daughters (Farrell, Kent, Ashley, even Red Shoes star Shearer) and sons (D'Amboise, Villella).  I also find it fascinating that two of his muses Farrell and Kirkland, threw off conventional ballet careers to forge their own schools/ballet companies.  Perhaps this is a more important legacy of Balanchine rather than any of them becoming choreographers.

The true death knell came for ballet in 90's.  But this knell was not just for ballet but culture in general.  As I've stated in many other posts, I think Jaron Lanier was right when he wrote that the internet froze culture in place.  Culturally we are still in the 1990s.  If you want proof, think of any time in the mid to late 90s.  Think of the clothing.  Can you wear clothing from that time period now?  Is music substantially different? If you are honest, the answer to the first question is yes, and the second would be no.  In fact, try to think of a difference between 2000 and 2010.  There is none.  Not like the huge difference between 1970 and 1980.

Not only has the internet froze culture, it cracked and fractured established cultural institutions.  The music industry is now bits and pieces of different styles.  None of them having any influence over each other and existing in a vacuum.  If you just want to listen to 1960's era girl band pop you can and you can access derivative bands that sound the same.  You can do this without ever having to pay attention to the greater popular culture at all.  What is left of greater pop music culture is repeats created by corporations.  They choose the musicians, the singers and the music according to what worked before to infinity.  So it won't change because there is no incentive to change.  Music fans are now cocooned in their own little worlds.

This same dynamic has also affected the movie industry.  But it hasn't fractured so far just yet.  Hollywood still has a stranglehold on what gets made and style direction.  But each year that hold is slipping.  We can see the fracturing occur in the rise of the independent films and TV series of various streaming services of Amazon, Netflix etc.

The world of fine art fell long before the internet age.  This was done deliberately and that would be an essay by itself.  Classical music was a part of the fracturing of the music industry.  But it split further when in the 90's companies started to push their own "star" faces  regardless of ability in order to attract non-classical fans.  This juggernaut insistence of P.R, over artistic integrity only succeeded in pushing knowledgeable fans into various sub-fandoms far from the mainstream classical music world.

Ballet held against this change longer than most of greater culture.  It was hermetic and seemed forever remote from the forces of corporatism.  But now we know that it isn't.  We now have "faces" being pushed on us regardless of actual dance skills.  The corporate powers that now contribute in great amounts to ballet companies have more power on the company boards than ever before.  As in film and music, they don't want to count on someone or something new happening by serendipity.  They want a sure thing.  Therefore "faces" are manufactured.  These faces are then plugged into various other spots such as modeling, TV commercials, TV shows, films etc.  The actual dancing is not important.  In fact it is important that these faces hardly ever dance at all and if they do, under media restrictions so tight that it assures a real opinion/review never sees the light of day.

But why has this happened?  This brings me back to internet cultural mores and how they have changed us.  The internet and the tech industry that drives it absolutely denigrates humanity.  It has an almost communist fervor to collectivize humans into various social network sites.  It wants us to SHARE but that sharing doesn't extend to itself.  There is no individual in Facebook, there is only the friends circle.  You are only important as the friend circle your identity is pegged into.  The industry is also fascinated with crackpot theories and rather religious belief systems such as singularity.  The tech mavens HATE their own bodies and want to transcend into computers to become....I don't know what.  But they do want to live forever.  These deluded individuals call their own bodies, meatbags.

Meatbags.  Now can you see why it is so easy for the forces that be to kill ballet?  In fact for people in general to not realize what is being lost?  These ideas are influencing us thru technology.  We are being taught to think we are all worthless, weak, ugly and needing tech tools to be better.  Because of these anti-human technological ideas, the very tenets of humanism that our culture was established upon are being destroyed.

Ballet is the very epitome of humanism.  It is the celebration of the golden ratio.  It is proof of the As Above, So Below mystical ideals.  I mentioned before that ballet celebrates the same tenets that Da Vinci encoded into his Vitruvian Man drawing.  That man and woman are proportional and beautiful  That our very bodies adhere to the same mathematical ratio that governs everything else in the universe.  We are proof of the divine on earth.

Each step of ballet builds upon this humanist ideal.  Each step would fit into Da Vinci's squared box. The shape formed by ballet steps is pure harmony in body and in space.  It lifts humans up to the absolute pinnacle of creation and beauty.

In a culture that is now ashamed of humanity, human needs, desires and is no surprise that people think ballet can just be changed to fit the face of the moment.  Or any politically correct notion being enforced.  This will lead to a gigantic fracture seen before in other parts of culture I already mentioned.  In the mainstream there will faces of mediocrity in the big companies filled with people who can or cannot dance.  But each and every one will be vetted by a media rating.  Ballet fans will cocoon into sub-fandoms following small boutique ballet companies or regional companies.

In essence there will never be another Balanchine or anyone quite like the ballet "children" he raised.  Anyone like him or his dancers can only exist in a culture not fractured into tiny pieces.

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