Archive for the ‘Ballet Books’ Category

“Apollo’s Angels” A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans

The book “Apollo’s Angels“: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans
English | 2010-11-02 | 672 pages
Download links at the bottom of this post

Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet

Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet


In an important and original work of cultural history, New Republic dance critic Homans places ballet an art often viewed as hermetic and esoteric in the larger context of the times and societies in which it evolved, flourished, and flagged, only to be revitalized by an infusion of fresh ideas. That revitalization could come from a ballet master like Jean-Georges Noverre, presented by Homans as an important Enlightenment figure whose ideas on reforming ballet were consonant with those of Diderot on reforming theater. Renewal came from the genius of dancers like Marie Taglioni, the incarnation of romanticism, whose originality, Homans indisputably shows, reached far beyond dancing up on her tippy-toes. But in a closing section that will be hotly debated, this exhilarating account sounds a despairing note: “ballet is dying,” she declares. Not only is the creative well running dry and performances dull, but more crucially, Homans sees today’s values as inimical to those of ballet (“We are all dancers now,” she writes, evoking what she sees as a misguided egalitarianism that denies an art rooted in discipline and virtuosity). Her cultural critique, as well as her expansive and penetrating view of ballet’s history, recommend this book to all readers who care about the history of the arts as well as their present and possible future.
Vladimir Vasiliev and the Bolshoi Ballet performing Yuri Grigorovich's Spartacus

Vladimir Vasiliev and the Bolshoi Ballet performing Yuri Grigorovich’s Spartacus

This early nineteenth-century satirical print of dancers practicing shows the "machines" male dancers were increasingly willing to use to stretch their tendons and turn out their legs

This early nineteenth-century satirical print of dancers practicing shows the “machines” male dancers were increasingly willing to use to stretch their tendons and turn out their legs

Read the rest of this entry »