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Reading Dance: A Gathering of Memoirs, Reportage, Criticism, Profiles, Interviews, and Some Uncategorizable Extras Hardcover – November 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1360 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037542122X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421228
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former Knopf and New Yorker editor-in-chief Gottlieb offers a wonderfully idiosyncratic collection of dance writings in one massive yet cohesive tome organized into chapters on major choreographers (from Bournonville to Paul Taylor), dancers, teachers and miscellaneous subjects such as "Present at the Creation" (e.g., ballerina Alexandra Danilova on Balanchine's Apollo). There's brilliant and incisive criticism, and artists in their own voices, such as winsome and witty ballerina Allegra Kent on her first performance with the New York City Ballet. There are critical looks at dancers, such as Harris Green's pointed take on Gelsey Kirkland as "The Judy Garland of Ballet." Then there are the ephemera: Fred Astaire opining on Ginger Rogers's dresses, Walt Disney's animated dances and recipes from Tanaquil LeClercq's The Ballet Cook Book. Although Gottlieb admits that his collection is "unbalanced and uneven," the paucity of writing on black dancers and choreographers--three pages on Alvin Ailey's "crude but powerful style" and an obituary of hoofer Honi Coles--is egregious. Nonetheless, it's an important collection and a treasure chest for dance aficionados. (Nov. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Formerly editor in chief of Knopf and the New Yorker, Gottlieb is a consummate bookman and anthologist par excellence. This is his third major compendium, following Reading Jazz (1996) and Reading Lyrics (2000), and the largest yet. Gottlieb is, in addition to all else, a dance critic and author of George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker (2004). Balanchine figures prominently here as one of the pantheon of dancers and choreographers Gottlieb organizes this capacious collection around, among them Frederick Ashton, Fred Astaire, Merce Cunningham, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martha Graham, and Twyla Tharp. Seminal dance writers are also present, including Joan Acocella, Arlene Croce, and Edwin Denby. In terms of dance history, this extraordinary assemblage is a must-have. But this gathering is also guaranteed to light up the brain circuitry of any reader who loves superlative essays. While covering all the important subjects from multiple perspectives, Gottlieb has selected writings of exceptional energy and forthright expression, from Janet Flanner on Isadora Duncan to Lincoln Kirstein on bad ballet and Jill Johnston on Baryshnikov. Perhaps the sheer physicality and eroticism of dance inspires its commentators to write with unusual verve. Gottlieb’s great book of dance dances. --Donna Seaman

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Campbell on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I learned of this book through Mr. Gottlieb's appearance on the Charlie Rose show and I odered my copy the next day, although I rarely buy new books. Both informative and highly entertaining, the book is an absolute treasure. As a lover of classical ballet I would have preferred more entries on that subject and fewer on modern/contemporary dance, but that is a minor quibble. For anyone who loves dance, especially ballet, my advice is simple: get a copy of this book as soon as possible.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By raindrops on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first saw this book at the local library. Due to its thickness and weight, I was going to just look up the articles on my favorite dancer, read them on the spot and not even bother checking the book out and lugging it home with me. However, the articles were so captivating that I ended up checking the book out so that I could take my time in savoring them. Then after another day of reading, some of the pieces were so special that I started to wish I could own a copy. So within a matter of two days, I went from not wanting to be even temporarily burdened by the book's weight to ordering it on Amazon.

The quality of the collection continues to delight me. Whenever I can squeeze 20 min at the end of a busy day, I would randomly flip to a page and immediately find something fascinating. It has introduces me to many more great dancers, whose personalities come jumping out of the pages through their interviews. Their perspectives on dancing have given me much food for thought and expanded my horizon many times over. Not all personalities come across as flattering, especially when they are presented so close to each other in the same volume. That in itself is interesting in association with their dancing styles.

This book has given me so much enjoyment that I can't remember the last book that made me feel this way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick polland on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This review will be short as I'm not a dancer. When I read about this book, I thought it would be a wonderful compendium to add to my daughter's collection. She's been dancing since she was 5 and loves dance. The book is expensive and I thought twice about obtaining it but I took a chance.

When "Reading Dance" arrived I was shocked to find what looked like an exhaustive text on dance virtually devoid of any photos.

My instruction to my daughter was simple. "Look her over and see if this book picques your interest - otherwise..."

When she had time, I would see her looking at the book seemingly captivated so I took a peek and found that I too was enjoying articles from people that everyone in dance would know but that I'd never heard of.

Alghough I think this book is a special find for a dancer, it also offers insights for those of us who know virtually nothing about dance.

Wonderfully worth it!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By French Critic on November 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Notwithstanding Suzanne Farrell's classic remark (quoted in this volume), "What does reading have to do with dancing?" this weighty collection of critiques, anecdotes, narratives, etc. is sure to delight all who appreciate the world of dance.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sherswab on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great page turner. Isadora Duncan - end of 'free spirit' section and Suzzane Farrell section had several pages missing.
I guess a print error, 30 pages total.

An excellent dance history source. I remember in one of my ballet classes the teacher asked us all to name a favorite dancer/role model that stimulates us as professional dancers. It was interesting that of all the dance majors none of the students knew of any dancers on the spot. Alessandra Ferri is my favorite and inspires me with a dance career well into her mid 40's and her role in Prokofievs Romeo and Julliet is awesome. However, this book should be on the curriculum of any dance school to enhance the students knowledge and interest in those that raised the barre for us all.
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