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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Apollo's Angels, A History of Ballet

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DD received this book as a "congratulations" gift for her Nutcracker performances from one of her grandmothers. I thought it was a very thoughtful gift. DD is a voracious reader and can't wait to delve into it. I think it would be a wonderful book for any book lover and/or ballet fan. Seems like there are quite a few excellent books about ballet and ballet dancers coming out lately.

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  • 2 weeks later...

While I'm not sure what controversy you are referring to (I must have missed something!), I really appreciate you posting that review. While I am greatly enjoying reading Apollo's Angels, and I'm learning a lot, I have been really bugged by her assertion that ballet is dead. That really has not been my experience, as limited as it is, and it is nice to see Macaulay confirm my intuition.


He points out something that has bugged me about her book. Her assertion that ballet as a form is dying is contradicted by the rest of her book, which ably demonstrates how often ballet has been rediscovered & reborn. I really think the fact that she was a Balanchine dancer, and is still mourning his passing, has colored her perception of the current state of things. I think Macaulay has a much clearer point of view.


Thanks again!

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Earlier this month, my Dad gave me a birthday present: it was this book. It's a little bit slow but so good!

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I heard the author interviewed on Fresh Air, and I think her view isn't that ballet is dead, but that there is a certain quality of it being central to world culture that is over, at least in the same sense as has always been the case in the past. I actually think her view may be a bit colored by a possible suspicion or misunderstanding of our rapidly changing social and cultural media, and how the stars of ballet are now mere humans in our eyes since they have facebook pages and twitterfeeds!

She did say she believes ballet is in transitional time right now, and that she doesn't know what it is going to look like on the other side. The book is fascinating! I am also surprised she doesn't take heart a bit more in view of ballet's history of survival which she is shedding so much light on!

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I am reading it now. It is my first Kindle book! I am finding it a bit slow, but I don't know if this is due to the e-reader and if it is going to take some getting used to. But I am enjoying the deep history into ballet's roots.

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Yes, the wealth of detail makes it not exactly a page-turner, but rewards will come as we get closer to the modern day! I've read several reputable reviews that assert that this book has the best biography within the context of the times of George Balanchine and his career of any other book to date. Can't wait! I have very little spare time so it will take me a while, but I can't wait to get back to this book every time I put it down!

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  • 4 weeks later...

My lovely wife gave me this for Christmas, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Yes, it's dense with information, but the breadth of perspective is just amazing. Putting it all into the context of the times - and the intellectual and political perspectives of the times - is unbelievably valuable. So far (I'm barely up to the French Revolution now) it not only answers all the questions I could never find answers to, it answers many more that I'd never thought to wonder about.


So far my favorite bit is the thought that ballet is one of the three main European martial arts (along with horseback riding and swordplay). Anyone who dances knows it's not for wusses, but it's nice to see that affirmed!

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I have read about 30% of the book according to my kindle where the Russians are picking up on ballet. I am not sure why the NY Times rated this as a top 5 book, but I do appreciate the fact that someone took the time to put together the history of ballet in great detail. I really admire the people who spent their lifetimes trying to show their people the value of ballet/dance. Yes, it is a slow read, but this is a history with many details that I will never remember but the details flesh out how ballet was viewed back in the day. To me ballet is not dead but reincarnated like many things including old movies. Who watches movies from the 20's and 30's, but we all appreciate how far the movie industry has come with it's new innovations. I feel the same way about the history of ballet; that it has evolved into an art form that I enjoy watching today. I do think that in Europe ballet is still valued and that it is also constantly changing to suit the tastes of the people.

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Olddude, you hit the nail on the head! It is the incredible breadth of perspective, placing everything with that larger context that is so fascinating! That is what makes the book so special.

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So far my favorite bit is the thought that ballet is one of the three main European martial arts


And that's just the contract negotiations! :)

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  • 5 months later...

I recently found this very interesting book in the new book section of my library. It is a complete history of ballet written by a dancer called Jennifer Homans. she blends all the different events into a engrossing story of ballet history from the court of Louis XIV to the death of George Balanchine. iwould reccomend it to any dancer who wants to hear about the history of the profession of ballet. :shrug:

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