Muses of the 20th Century: Greek Myth in Opera, Ballet, and Modern Dance

by Associate Professor of Classics and Philosophy Grace Ledbetter

"Why does Greek mythology figure centrally into some of the most pivotally modern works in the performing arts? If we have lost a romantic, sentimental attachment to ancient Greece as a cultural ideal, what significance can Greek myth have for us?" asks Ledbetter. "In this lecture I discuss Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, Martha Graham's Night Journey, and Balanchine's Apollo and show that, in different ways, each of these works employs a kind of classicism that - somewhat paradoxically - evokes the ancient past specifically for purposes of modernizing its art form."