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Book List - biographies: choreographers


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This is a list for adults and students old enough to watch an R rated movie without adult companionship. Parents: check the biographies before you let a child or young teen read them. There may be aspects of the person's life that would be disturbing to your child. (Several of these books are not at all R-rated, but young teens may find them too detailed and scholarly.)



(a quick way to read about ballet history, because the life of a choreographer like George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton or Robert Joffrey is also the history of his company)


George Balanchine : The Ballet Maker by Robert Gottlieb. George Balanchine is the founder choreographer of the New York City Ballet and one of the greatest 20th century choreographers. Nearly every American ballet company dances at least one of his ballets each season. Robert Gottlieb is an eminent editor who knew Balanchine and watched his company grow. This is a quick read; it's part of the Eminent Lives series, intended for general audiences.


Balanchine: a Biography by Bernard Taper. Currently out of print (though available used through the link provided) this is the standard Balanchine bio.


Frederick Ashton and His Ballets by David Vaughan. Frederick Ashton was the founder choreographer of Britain's Royal Ballet and one of of the greatest 20th century choreographers. This is an artistic biography, beautifully written, by a man who watched Ashton's work from the beginning. American Ballet Theatre is beginning to acquire an Ashton repertory; the Joffrey Ballet has a large Ashton repertory as well. This is the book for background on the works. Be sure to get the 2nd edition, published in 1999; the first edition is 1977, published when Ashton was still alive and creating. The second edition, published after his death, covers the career completely.


Secret Muses by Julie Kavanaugh. A biography that emphasizes Ashton's socal life, as well as his artistic one.


The JOFFREY BALLET : Robert Joffrey and the Making of An American Dance Company by Sasha Anawalt. Just what the title says!


The Ballets of Antony Tudor: Studies in Psyche and Satire by Judith Chazin-Bennahum. This is published by Oxford University Press, so iit's not a beach book. Tudor is one of the great 20th century choreographers, and a founder choreographer of American Ballet Theatre. This is more a study of his ballets than a life.


Shadowplay : Antony Tudor's Life in Dance by Donna Perlmutter. And this one is more a study of his life than of his ballets.


Jerome Robbins : His Life, His Theater, His Dance by Deborah Jowitt. Robbins' first ballet, "Fancy Free," for American Ballet Theatre was a hit, and still danced. He choreographed for that company for several years, and then moved to the New York City Ballet, choreographing a string of hit Broadway musicals in addition to his classical choreography. This is a thorough study of the man and his work.


No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille by Carol Easton. With Tudor and Robbins, Agnes de Mille was a founder choreographer of American Ballet Theatre, and works like "Rodeo" and "Fall River Legend" are still performed.


Balanchine's Tchaikovsky: Conversations with Balanchine on His Life, Ballet, and Music by Solomon Volokov. After Balanchine's death, a friend who had had many conversations with the choreographer decided to write those conversations down, and the result is a fascinating insight into how this extremely musical choreographer worked and thought.


The Bournonville Ballets: A Photographic Record 1844-1933 by Knud Arne Jurgensen. One of my favorite books -- it's expensive ($110) and of the most interest to those curious about Bournonville or Romantic Ballet. It's a collection of photographs from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century of dancers in ballets, some now lost, by the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville, with commentary.


I REMEMBER BALANCHINE by Francis Mason. Brief reminiscences with dancers and other artists who worked with George Balanchine.

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:lol: Alexandra-Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Could you recommend biographies for Marius Petipa and Michel Fokine?

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Maggie you're welcome! And, believe it or not, there is NO biography in English of Marius Petipa. Isn't that incredible? There are (at least) two of Miichel Fokine -- one his autobiography and another by Dawn Lille Horwitz -- but both are out of print and difficult to find. There are also two of Leonid Massine; I checked the first 200 listings on Amazon and they didn't turn up, but I'll try to find them later and add them.


A list of dancers will follow -- but DEAD dancers :green: Or at least dancers who have lived long enough to be considered part of dance history. A few off topic posts were deleted from this forum -- there's a Books for Dancers forum on this message board, as well as this one, and that's the place to talk about books on people currently dancing.


Other comments welcome!

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