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Walpurgis Night Theme In Choreography Essay

2014 words - 8 pages

A theme of Walpurgis Night is very popular in various art forms such as theatre, dance, literature, music, film, and television. A number of different European cultures have their traditions and celebrations. In most cultures celebrating Walpurgis Night, the event usually takes place on April 30 or May 1 and is associated with the celebration of spring. There is a lot of mystery and uncertain information about the origins of Walpurgis Night. Casanova’s Catholic Encyclopedia states that it was named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga who was canonized on May 1 (Casanova). But if it was just a celebration of spring, if would not be so interesting for artists creating in different art forms. In Richard Golden’s Encyclopedia Of Witchcraft : The Western Tradition it is also stated that Walpurgis Night was named after “the Anglo-Saxon princess Walpurga, who was the niece of St. Boniface and abbess of a nunnery at Heidenheim in Germany” (1178). A century after her death, her corps was transported to Eichstätt on May 1, 870, and this date became her feast day. Pagans used to celebrate this day with festivals. They chose the most inaccessible places for their festivals in order not to be caught by the Christians who tried to extinguish the memory of the feast. That might be the reason why the myth of witches gathering was born. There is a belief in popular culture that on the night between April 30 and May 1 all witches meet at the top of the Blocksberg (now called Brocken) in the Harz Mountain Range in Germany to worship the Devil with lighting bonfires and dancing (Golden 1178). This belief has become inspirational for many outstanding works in literature, music, chorography, art, film and television. The use and interpretations of this theme in literature works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Mikhail Bulgakov, and choreography works of Marius Petipa, Leonid Lavrovsky, and George Balanchine will be studied in this paper. Also, my own interpretation of it in a form of a ten minute choreography piece will be described and explained.
One of the most popular works that contain the Walpurgis Night theme is Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Faust, a scholar and God’s favorite person on Earth, with a drop of his blood signs a contract with the devil (Mephistopheles) in which it is stated that Mephistopheles would do everything for Faust on Earth, and after that Faust would serve the devil in Hell. As soon as Faust starts living his life in a tight union with the devil getting everything he desires, he forgets human morals and degrades as a person. He thinks only about material pleasures. Mephistopheles brings him to the Brocken mountain on Walpurgis Night to destroy completely Faust’s morality and make him a member of his “dark society”. They observe the celebration form the side first, and join in. Faust hears very loud noises and sees a very chaotic picture with witches flying around, dancing, and singing:
Witches bound for the Brocken are we,...

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