Music: The Rug in the Icebox

As he tells it, Choreographer George Balanchine likes to create a ballet by "opening the icebox door," rummaging around inside and producing random combinations that look "appetizing."' Sometimes he finds pretty strange things in the icebox. His latest discovery: a rug. Balanchine was inspired by an analysis by Orientalist Arthur Upham Pope of the formal structure of Persian carpets, in which the patterns were compared to polyphony in music and some of the figures to fertility symbols. The resulting work, a diverse, pseudo-Oriental affair titled The Figure in the Carpet, had its première last week with the New York City Ballet,...

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