Auguste Vestris


Essais / Esssays

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Spoken in Silence
June 2005

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What Elisabeth Maurin represents for the dance has been plainly stated by Rudolf Nureyev, "She reminds me of Ulanova".

In Russia, at that time, the use of words was forbidden. Or rather, one could use words, but only approved words. The question of what is man could only be spoken in silence. Life could be defended neither from the pulpit, nor in newsprint, nor in any explicit form.

The will to defend it was there, and it had to be acted on, but only in silence.

Apostle of an art most peculiarly suited to serve that idea, was Galina Ulanova.

Elisabeth Maurin
vu par Edgar Degas en 1873

In very many respects, the ruling classes in certain powerful Western nations do now closely resemble that faction which, in the uproar attendant upon the 1917 Revolution, very nearly prevailed in Russia- a faction exulting in the spilling of blood, in unchecked power over one’s fellow man, and vandal, in its contempt for centuries of thought and labour.

Someone must stand up and say No.

Strength of resolution, dissolving into one fiery moment the course of a lifetime’s thoughts. That is Elisabeth Maurin, like Ulanova proof that man is not only bone, tissue, sinew, vein, and animal liquors, but a thinking feeling particle of universality. The sway she holds over the public, the unending ovation on June 29th 2005, was not a triumphant explosion, that final satisfaction that, on quitting the stage, one carries off like carrion to feed upon, but an understanding from heart to heart - Von Herzen - moege es wieder zu Herzen gehen, of what her entire career has been about.

I am sorry that I am not a poet to sing Maurin’s praise, but there are poets and so John Keats writes,

Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.

Names, deeds, grey legends, dire events, rebellions,

Majesties, sovran voices, agonies,

Creations and destroyings all at once

Pour into the wide hollows of my brain

And deify me, as if some blithe wine

Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk....

Hyperion, 1820