Tag Archives: Sports

Metastasio and the Olympic Games

Pietro Metastasio’s popular libretto L’Olimpiade publicized and transmitted a particular ideological and historicized conception of the ancient Olympic Games that would ultimately contribute to the rationalization and legitimization of Pierre de Coubertin’s idiosyncratic Olympic ideology, a philosophical religious doctrine that embraced a noble and honorable conception of sport at the same time as it served discrete class, race, and gendered ends.

The hegemony of the contemporary Olympic Games movement is grounded in part on the appropriation of the classicism and Romanticism transmitted in Metastasio’s work. In narrative, music, and production, L’Olimpiad sustained a particular image of the games, an image that nourished Coubertin’s formulation as it paved the way for further musical representations of the Games that to this day lend authority to a musically transmitted, mythologized, and Hellenized past.

This according to “Music as sport history: The special case of Pietro Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade and the story of the Olympic Games” by Jeffrey O. Seagrave, an essay included in Sporting sounds: Relationships between sport and music (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009, pp. 113–27).

The 2018 Winter Olympics opens today! Above, a production of Josef Mysliveček’s setting of Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade; below, excerpts from Pergolesi’s setting.

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Filed under Literature, Opera, Sports and games

Ice dance defined


The term ice dance was coined for attempts to perform ballroom dances on the ice, and to create ballroom-style dances that could be performed on skates.

The genre was added to the figure skating World Championships in the early 1950s, and it became an Olympic sport in 1976. Ice dancers began to incorporate more and more elements of ballet and theatrical training into their performances, and by the mid-1980s leading dance teams were steadily moving ice dance away from its social-dance origins toward the domain of art dance.

While athleticism remained at the forefront, the lines between sport and art were starting to blur, and in 1992 the International Olympic Committee tightened the rules to steer ice dancing back toward ballroom dancing. It remains to be seen whether ice dancing will continue to be defined narrowly, or whether all forms of expressive skating to music will eventually be considered dance.

This according to What is the “dance” in ice dance? by Ellyn Kestnbaum (Proceedings of the Society for Dance History Scholars 22 [1999] pp. 243–248). Below, the Gold Medalists at the 2012 Olympics.

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Filed under Dance, Sports and games