Sweedeedee & Winter Syntax

Tuesday, 22 May 2012








I try not to re-blog too many things from Behind Ballet, since I write for them, and also, since I would probably end up re-blogging everything on that blog, as I love it. But I couldn’t help myself when I saw this post. These images are from Tim Harbour’s new work, Sweedeedee. As described on The Australian Ballet blog:

Long-time fans of The Australian Ballet will be thrilled to welcome Steven Heathcote and Justine Summers back to the stage, and to meet Mia Heathcote, Steven’s daughter, and Lennox Niven, who play their children in this family piece. Set to intimate folk music, performed live by musicians led by Dancing with the Stars’ Chong Lim, Sweedeedee is both playful and poignant, and will provide a powerful ending to our Let’s Dance program.

I couldn’t stop looking at these images when I first saw them, because they immediately brought to my mind this poem by Billy Collins:

Winter Syntax

A sentence starts out like a lone traveler
heading into a blizzard at midnight,
tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face,
the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him.

There are easier ways of making sense,
the connoisseurship of gesture, for example.
You hold a girl's face in your hands like a vase.
You lift a gun from the glove compartment
and toss it out the window into the desert heat.
These cool moments are blazing with silence.

The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it
it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning
outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon
in a corner of the couch.

Bare branches in winter are a form of writing.
The unclothed body is autobiography.
Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun.

But the traveler persists in his misery,
struggling all night through the deepening snow,
leaving a faint alphabet of bootprints
on the white hills and the white floors of valleys,
a message for field mice and passing crows.

At dawn he will spot the vine of smoke
rising from your chimney, and when he stands
before you shivering, draped in sparkling frost,
a smile will appear in the beard of icicles,
and the man will express a complete thought.

I thought of the “blazing” silence, simplicity and wordless eloquence of the bodily gestures and movements caught in these images: a hand cupping a face, an elbow rising sharply in the air, two arms wrapping shoulders, hands pressed against the heart. As someone who works with words, I’m envious of these “easier ways of making sense”; they express things in a way that I cannot in my own battle of trying to “express a complete thought”. Or, then again, maybe I’m just romanticising another art form in my own struggle with another.

If you’d like to learn more about this ballet or the Let’s Dance program, head over to Behind Ballet.

All photography is by Lynette Wills and is used here with permission. Please do not re-blog without giving proper credit.


suzie said...

I can't take my eyes of these photographs either. The complete stillness within the movement…the fifth one especially. They correspond with the beautiful poem, I agree!

ronnie said...

as a visual artist I romanticise almost all other art forms (especially music and dance.... and poetry and writing and......sigh....) finding them somehow containing a 'rightness' and ease that I struggle to find in my work.....

(ps - beautiful images)

Rambling Tart said...

Wow. So beautiful, intense yet peaceful. Their faces are mesmerizing. They seem completely unaware of the camera. Amazing. :-) I too envy expressions that seem to make communication so much easier than finding the right words. But I guess that's what makes the right words so very precious. :-)

Anis said...

These are definetely amazing pictures! Love the way it catches the moment.

rooth said...

Those are beautiful photographs, as everyone else has already mentioned. The serenity in their faces is really something...

Danielle P. said...

I admit that I envy their intensity of concentration and in-the-moment-ness.

Another lovely poem! You have a gift for choosing just the right one to share with us. Thank you.

(a message for field mice and passing crows...
my favourite line, definitely.)

jessica sandoval said...

Ugh, everything about ballet is just so aesthetically pleasing, it hurts.

Olga said...

Ballet is one of the artforms that have fascinated and enthralled me, and at the same time made me think about the imperfection of the world that is ballet.

Jo said...

My goodness these images are wonderful, I just keep looking at them, in particular the last one.

Camila Faria said...

I'm glad you posted about this because now I'm in love with Behind Ballet. Seriously, I'm reading all their posts and loving it! So good. ♥

Naomi Bulger said...

So beautifully eloquent. I love what the human body can express, without words.

Gracia said...

I was just looking at these beautiful images on Behind Ballet. Beautiful and exciting!

"The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it
it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning
outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon
in a corner of the couch."
makes me particularly happy. As I sit here on the floor, laptop before me, Percy is that dog who sleeps the afternoon away from the comfort of the corner of the couch.

Looking forward to our Night zine,
g xo

Niina said...

Last time you posted a Billy Collins poem it really struck me because I seldom read poems and had´n t read any of his. And this time again there´s something I really like. I just had forgot about him. Well, it won´t happen again. Thank you for posting something new and exciting for me!

CloudyKim said...

Wow, I love the photos - and the Billy Collins poem was an excellent choice. I love his poetry, haha.

Looking at these photos makes me miss ballet; I haven't seen one in a few years and I really should try to find out if any will be showing up in my hometown this summer :)

Hila said...

Suzie: the fifth one down is my favourite too!

Ronnie: I do the same - I project a 'rightness' to other people's work that I think I'm lacking in mine. Of course, they probably have their own dilemmas, and this 'rightness' is all in my head.

Rambling Tart: exactly, which is why when you stumble upon the right words, it seems almost miraculous. That's why I love poetry.

Anis: me too!

Rooth: I know, I envy their calmness.

Danielle: or perhaps the right poems have a way of finding me :)

Jessica: I know, damn these beautiful people!

Olga: yes, but everything is imperfect I suppose.

Jo: there's something about them, huh? I can't stop looking either.

Camila: I'm glad to have introduced you to Behind Ballet! I've been writing for that blog for a while, and I adore it too.

Naomi: yes, there are no words for this.

Gracia: me too Gracia! I'm so looking forward to collaborating with you and Louise on a little something. xo

Niina: I have a soft spot for Billy Collins, his poems are so unpretentious and real.

Cloudykim: oh yes, treat yourself and go see a ballet.

T C said...

so much grace! i`d like to see it with my own eyes, guess it`s even more than great!

Hila said...

TC: ah, if only we could see it in person :)