Diaghilev and The False Memory Syndrome

How memories of dance are passed on from generation to generation – even if they seem to be untrue

When I finally achieved my ambition to visit Diaghilev‘s tomb on the Venetian island of San Michele I found myself unexpectedly moved to tears by the experience. In the warm, shimmering silence of the walled garden that constitutes the Russian Orthodox part of the cemetery complex I stood before the curious stone altar that marks his final resting place and realised I was experiencing an intense emotion akin to bereavement. Being a non-lachrymose individual I was baffled by this powerful outpouring of emotion and sought in vain to comprehend it.

I had felt no such emotion standing before the grave of Igor Stravinsky a few moments earlier, although Stravinsky‘s music, as a living legacy, could still touch me in more immediate ways than anything associated with his erstwhile mentor. My respect for the achievements of Diaghilev is profound, and my researches into his life and work are extensive, but that moment on San Michele felt like real personal loss; grief for someone I knew. I concluded that my feelings for the great man stemmed from the sensation that I really had known him; not through photographs or accumulated bibliographic or historical knowledge, but because I had known ...

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Tanz August/September 2005
Rubrik: Forgotten Memories, Seite 46
von Mike Dixon