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Books: Apollo's Angels, A History of Ballet

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Thank you. This really was a great review. I'll have to ask for this book as a Christmas gift. There is also a link from the review to an interview with the former dancer/author Jennifer Homans that is inspiring.

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I just bought the book for my 15 year old DD, but I can't wait to read it. In yesterday's NYT Book Review section, they listed their top 5 fiction and top 5 non-fiction books for 2010. Appollo's Angels was listed as one of the non-fiction books, which is pretty impressive considering the huge selection of non fiction books published this year. I think it is exciting that a book on the history of ballet is being given such great recognition. Another interesting note--my DD commented on the background of the author, who was a professional dancer that later pursued a PhD in European History. DD loves history (and school in general) and I think it was good for her to see an example of someone who successfully combined her love of (and skill in) dance with other skills and interests. I think reading the author's bio helped her to broaden her definition of what it means to pursue a career in "dance." We are snowed in right now, so it might be a good day to start reading!


BTW--in case your local bookstore doesn't have it, the book is available online from Barnes and Noble or Borders for around $24. I payed the list price of about $35 at an independent bookstore in town--but it will be well worth it, I'm sure. A great gift for a ballet school director or dance teacher.

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It is also available from Amazon, for $21! And they have it for Kindle too, at $19.95. Please keep in mind that anything bought from Amazon, by going there through our link at the top of every page, helps us keep this site alive! :thumbsup:

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I just put this on my Christmas list last week. I read the review on Amazon and the critic said that the second portion of the book was essentially an elitist view that ballet was a dead art. It'll be interesting to read the author's perspective.

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WOW love the NYTimes review! I have already ordered this book for dd after a recommendation from the Slate Culture Gabfest (a podcast I'm addicted to).


Can't wait to read this book now! I think DD will LOVE..

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In case anyone has missed it, there is a related link the links section.


Switching to a different reference, 30 October 2010 Wall Street Journal Online: The Most Beautiful Language: For four centuries, ballet has presented human anatomy at its most aspiring and celestial


Unfortunately, this article might be behind a subscription wall.


The first ten years of this new millennium witnessed a stately rollout of big books on ballet. Margot Fonteyn (2004) and Rudolf Nureyev (2007) each received definitive studies that were far more ruminative and raw than the numerous previous biographies. Between 2001 and 2006, the great American choreographer Jerome Robbins was the subject of not one, not two, but three huge works. And in 2007, we got the first book—with at least one more announced—on the protean intellect and impresario Lincoln Kirstein. While ballet onstage is desperately trying to find a place in our inattentive and increasingly lowbrow culture, writers have been happily taking the measure of the last century, letting the longer view bring light to subjects on which we seemingly can't get enough. Or perhaps it's that we can't bear to let them go, can't bear to move from the past to the present, where even the most talented classical dancers, choreographers and impresarios seem to be working in a void.


Into this climate of uncertainty and assessment, Jennifer Homans has delivered another big book—one that pulls itself up, drops its shoulders, and lifts its chin to get the longest view of all. "Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet" takes the measure of the last four centuries, showing us exactly when and why the unlikely art of ballet came into being, and how, growing more unlikely with every century, it evolved and survived.

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I have ordered two copies for Christmas gifts, through Amazon, of course! :)

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