Sunday, October 9, 2011

Danse Macabre

Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut

October 9, 1835 is the birth date of Camille Saint-Saens.

This isn't a "Classical Music" blog, but I was thinking of sneaking in a little Spooky Sunday fun for an early October evening. One of Saint-Saens' most famous pieces is the Danse Macabre. This tone poem is based on a story in which Death appears at midnight every Halloween and summons up the dead from their graves. To the sound of Death's violin, they dance until sunrise. Then they return into the earth and wait for another year to pass so that they can enjoy another night of liberating dance.

In late medieval lore, the danse macabre was symbolic of the universality of death. Regardless of your age, wealth, social status, or personal talents, the Reaper was always at your side. Death was waiting for all mortals. And so Life was nothing but a dance on the way to the grave.

Morbid stuff!!!

Dance of the Dolls (2011) by Anthony Clarkson

But I find the imagery fascinating. Dancing is such vigorous and life-affirming activity that the combination with Death creates a transgressive thrill. Lifeless things should not be dancing. And dancers should not be dead.

Anyways, I figured that this gothic romanticism would be a fun treat for our very erratic Spooky Sunday post. ;-)

Dead Can Dance (Dead Can Dance) (2010) by Sarah Joncas

Here's some music:

Kim Yuna (figure skating exhibition program)


(My familiarity with the works of Anthony Clarkson and Sarah Joncas comes from seeing their work exhibited at Thinkspace Gallery. So here's a shout out to them as well.)

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