Recently our daughter has gotten into ballet. It’s nice seeing her so excited about something and dancing about the house, looking forward to her classes each week. And maybe I’m just a proud father, but I think she’s quite good at it for a beginner. I’m endlessly fascinated by things like ballet. During the high point of the pandemic I took up in-line skating. I became obsessed. When I wasn’t skating I would watch videos of people skating. What struck me was how effortless and graceful it looked, despite the fact of the intense strength and muscle control those movements take. We all have, I believe, two bodies. On the one hand there is the surface of the body, the body as it presents itself to the world, the body that is seen. Then there is the dynamic body that is composed of forces and movements. This is how it is with ballet. There is that body given to be seen that looks so delicate, graceful, and fragile, and then there is the intense body of forces and pure strength that brings forth those movements. Ballerinas are tough.

Last night, after class, she was excitedly talking about how she perfectly executed her first “combination” without looking at any of the other dancers. “I just counted”, she said. For me this was revelatory. Her dance movements are a kind of mathematics. Here I could not help but think of Whitehead’s “eternal objects”. The eternal objects, he says, are pure potentialities like numbers, patterns, a particular shade of green, etc. They are atemporal— hence their eternity —indifferent to “actual occasions” (events, things, bodies), and “ingress” into actual occasions. There is a sort of origami at work here. My daughter’s dance is a sort of folding of numbers into herself. Those numbers are always numerically identical to themselves— which is why they are eternal objects —but as they ingress or fold into her muscles, nerves, tendons, and the architecture of her skeleton they are actualize themselves as something singular to her. This too is true when the dancers dance together, folding the movements of their bodies into one another, as well as those eternal objects. There is a sort of incorporeal force here, a force of the eternal objects, that is compounded with the intense forces of the virtual body and it is beautiful.