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NYCB Vol. 8 No. 8 - The Unanswered Question

“Out of the darkness a beautiful young girl in white appears aloft, carried by a team of four men and a shadowy fifth precedes the cluster, tunring, crawling, reaching toward her. Carefully, as in a ritual or a circus act, the girl is lowered and lifted, revolved in fantastic and horrifying fashions. In all the shapes her body takes, she is never any less beautiful or less placid. At moments her hair brushes the questioner’s face. There is no awareness of his question or of his humiliation on anyone’s part but his own. And the corps moves forward again and disappears—like a great ponderous knot floating about in a shoreless obscurity. This scene, with its casual ghastly incident when the girl falls backward headfirst into space, is the central one of the ballet. As if to heighten the mystery, the spectral white figure never touches the ground.” —Edwin Denby in Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets (affiliate link)

Suki Schorer in the Unanswered Question. Photo by Fred Fehl, 1963. Harry Ransom Center

Footage via John Clifford’s YouTube channel.


“A boy seeks the answer to some insoluble cosmic riddle from a sphinx-like girl who, supported by a tribe of anonymous hands and arms, is never permitted to touch earth. The metaphor of equivocal, otherworldly response to his ceaseless appeal was incarnated in the sinuous soarings and collapses of Allegra Kent, a very young dancer of supple eloquences whose bare body seemed boneless, a kid glove of skin firmed with coils of steel.”— Thirty Years: Lincoln Kirstein’s The New York City Ballet

Allegra Kent in The Unanswered Question. Photo by Fred Fehl, 1959. Harry Ransom Center.

George Balanchine Foundation Video Archive: Robert Gottlieb interviews Allegra Kent & Todd Bolender, 2004.

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