Last weekend, I attended the Eifman ballet in New York City Theater – “Tchaikovsky: The Mystery of Life and Death”. Unlike the vast majority of ballets I have seen before, that are centered around a fictional story such as the “Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake”, this production was quite different. It was an outsider’s view of the inner world of the great Russian composer.
The ballet revealed the many layers of internal torment experienced by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, ranging from whirling ideas about his future productions of “Swan Lake”, “Nutcracker”, “Eugene Onegin” and “The Queen of Spades” to the internal questioning of his own identity. He was torn between the world of his rich imagination and the external society he lived in. The story culminates with his death that may have possibly been attributed to a suicide.
So many great historical figures are often associated with internal conflict and difficulty of dealing with external society. A couple authors that come to mind are Fyodor Dostoevsky, who suffered from epilepsy and Ernest Hemingway, who suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. While these conditions certainly cannot be considered as gifts, there is often a strong correlation between neurological/psychological disorders and great creativity.
I guess one question worth contemplating is whether the fact that these disorders had to be disguised from society due to potential stigma, leading to greater internal torment, has contributed to the way these great artists expressed themselves through their craft. Whereas in the current times, free access to the internet, blogs, forums and social media allows such talent to “leak out” and not be converted into something great.
I would love to read your views and comments on this topic.