The Still Point

Dancer Corinne Giddings, Susan Manchack, and Jody Anderson. Photographer Don Middleton.

Choreography: Todd Bolender
Music: Claude Debussy

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where. And I cannot say, how long, for a that is the place it in time.

T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”

The lines from T. S. Eliot’s works are the poetic inspiration for Todd Bolender’s much-honored, oft-performed, The Still Point. Created in 1955 for the Frankel-Ryder Company, a modern dance ensemble, it was restaged in 1956 for the New York City Ballet Company. In 1981, Bolender set the piece for the Alvin Ailey Company and the elegant Donna Woods, and the piece was again critically acclaimed.

From the Ballet’s archives is the following, which appeared in Dance Magazine in May, 1956. The writer/reviewer was Doris Hering and she wrote in summation of the performances of the New York City Ballet’s February-March season at the New York City Center: “…most memorable of the entire New York City Ballet season was a single instant when a young man extended his hand toward a girl, and her hand rose in an arc to meet his. It was the culmination of Todd Bolender’s ballet The Still Point. And it was the perfect cadence to a work that flowed like a song.” “It is a work, “wrote Ms. Hering, of great “depth and simplicity, and in fact, simplicity is the prime virtue of this little ballet…the dancing speaks out honestly without any mimetic overlay.”

The music for the ballet is Claude Debussy’s String Quartet #1 in G Major, Opus 10, Movements 1, 2 and 3.

World Premiere: April 10, 1955, Ym-Ywha, New York, The Dance Drama Company of Emily Frankel and Mark Ryder

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: Mary 31, 1981

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