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Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet Paperback – November 29, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
When Balanchine, Ashton,Tudor and the other great lions of dance were creating it was a rare opportunity that the major voices in dance were invited in to make ballets for other companies. Balanchine created only a handful of works outside NYCB and the same is true for Ashton and the Royal.Read more ›
But this book as so much more. It's written by a thinking ex-dancer who can put the history of dance into a philosophical and cultural context. I'm sure that at nearly every page I was exclaiming ``oh, that's why'' or ``now I know.'' I think her explanation of the origins of ballet in the etiquette and self image of the Sun King's court is the best I've ever read.
I don't think I ever really understood the deep spirituality that underlies Balanchine's choreography until I read this book. It made me go back and spend hours watching videos of long-gone dancers on YouTube.
I'd quibble over a few things. Why didn't she include Mark Morris for example? And what's coming out of China and Japan? And I'm not sure her prognosis about the future of ballet need be quite so glum.
But at bottom, this book is a must for anyone who is halfway interested in the history of ballet, or, for that matter, the cultural history of the early 20th century. Thank you Jennifer Homans!
"Apollo's Angels" is billed as an expansive look at the history of ballet, but it is not that. At least, not after the first quarter or so of the book. The history presented is the party line, what dancers are taught to believe and not question. It is also quite narrow in scope, looking only at the ballet schools that toe the traditional line. The cheaper balletic entertainments and the traveling companies that do specialty presentation are not addressed at all -- and then the author has the audacity to say that there is nothing new in ballet! Well, it's like reading only classic books and then deciding advant garde is dead. It's not good scholarship.
However, the history detailing the evolution of courtly dance to the ballets that are considered classics in our own time is superb. If it's a narrow history, I will applaud the depth of the book in this one narrow area. It's fascinating to find out that ballets I know and like are much changed from their original form even when they are advertised as true classics, the stump speeches of dance.
The author, sadly, never questions her sources or considers their bias. She wrote down the party line even when her own research should have easily shown her the logical inconsistency of it. If Italy had no balletic tradition, where were all these fabulous visiting Italian stars coming from? And, if Balanchine didn't like his dancers a particular way, why on earth do they all look the same in the included pictures. Why was there a terrible backlash against his physical ideals.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clear detailed review of the history of ballet in the western world.Published 29 days ago by Thomas G. Steffens
As others have noted, this is a comprehensive, exhaustively researched -- but not exhausting -- history of ballet, from its roots in the French courts of the 18th century to the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by David Cady
I don't know why this was a finalist for one of the best books of the year. As a former dancer, some parts were captivating, but as a whole, I could only read 5-10 pages at a time... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jordan Yaworski
fascinating history of the Ballet and a lesson in European history as well. I have learned a great deal from this book.Published 12 months ago by BERNARD Singer
This book changed my life. As a dancer and as a scholar I welcomed such a well-researched and comprehensive history of ballet. It is long and dense, but still a page-turner. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jennifer Calderone
I did not read this as it was purchased as a gift for my granddaughter who is a very serious student of ballet. I understand she very much enjoyed it.Published 13 months ago by elfin
Very detailed and yet never boring. Jenifer tells the story of Ballet in a way that makes this not just a history book, but the birth, life, and dwindling of an art that is... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Grant Jarvis
Excellent book - a must read for balletomanes who also enjoy history!!!!Published 14 months ago by Peter Bloch