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The Ballets Russes and Its World Hardcover – November 10, 1999

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As impresario, Serge Diaghilev marshalled the best of the artistic forces of the early 20th century in the Ballets Russes, which embraced not only dance luminaries like Nijinsky, Balanchine, and Adolph Bolm but also musical innovators like Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov and visual artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Leger. Here, editors Garafola and the late Van Norman Baer have assembled a distinguished group of dance and music scholars and critics to assess the importance of the Ballets Russes. The 14 essays by noted contributors Joan Acocella, Nancy Reynolds, Charles Joseph, and others examine the history of the Ballets Russes, from Diaghilev's collaborations with Stravinsky to the genesis of such landmark ballets as "The Firebird" and "Les Noces" and the company's influence on English and American dance. Enhanced by numerous illustrations, a detailed list of Diaghilev's works, and an estimable bibliography, this book is highly recommended for all dance and performing arts collections.ACarolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A collection of essays held together by the commentary of a knowledgeable guide, this makes clear the impact Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes had on the dance world. Dance historian Garafola's introduction sets it out clearly: although most of the original works of the company are no longer being performed, Diaghilev changed the entire context of what we now know as ballet. First, she notes, ``he transformed the character of ballet music, putting the final nail in the coffin of the specialist tradition exemplified by such composers as Ludwig Minkus and Cesare Pugni.'' He instead used music that was performed in concert, most notably working with Stravinsky on Firebird, Petrouchka, Le Sacre du Printemps. and Pulcinella (Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and Poulenc were among other composers who benefited from Diaghilev's vision). Diaghilev also ``invented'' the one-act ballet, took costume and set design out of the hands of specialists and handed the entire production to one artist with a unifying vision, elevated the role of male dancers, and built on a classical foundation to explore new types of movement. In part one, various essays describe Diaghilev's background and the development of his aesthetic. Part two examines the evolution of dance through the Ballets Russes, including the influence of Isadora Duncan and others (in Elizabeth Souritz's essay), ``Firebird and the Idea of Russianness'' (by Sally Banes), and an examination of the Diaghilev/Stravinsky juggernaut; notes Charles M. Joseph: ``Diaghilev was a jumble of unlikeable traits. He could be utterly malicious in his treatment of friends . . . When crossed, he unhesitatingly sought vengeance against those foolhardy enough to question him.'' Finally, part three looks at how the influence of the Ballets Russes lives on, finishing with Nancy Reynoldss ``In His Image: Diaghilev and Lincoln Kirstein.'' (The late Van Norman Baer was curator of theater and dance at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.) Scholarly and wide-ranging, an enjoyable and worthwhile history. (color and b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (November 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300061765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300061765
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thank you to Dr. Garafola and Nancy Baer for their long-awaited, wonderful and beautifully illustrated book on the Ballets Russes. It is an extraordinary contribution to the fields of dance and art history. It will be well-appreciated in classrooms and libraries across America. It is also a useful text as it can be appreciated both by the aficionado of ballet history, as well as by the novice, trying to learn through scene design and costume shapes the myriad interpretations of the twenty-year life of Diaghilev's Russian ballet company. Any return to the modernist era is of use to students of history and performing artists of any generation.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to say I am very surprised by the bad reviews for this book. It seems like these people are just not interested in Diaghilev.... It is pretty obvious from the title that this book is about Diaghilev, so I am not really sure why they are complaining. Anyway, The Ballets Russes and Its World is a great resource for anyone interested in the Ballets Russes. It truly was an amazing time for dance as well as art and music. The authors do a wonderful job keeping the chapters focused and interesting. This book also contains a wonderful collection of images. I have yet to see any other book that so successfully captures this unique period in dance. Nay sayers...go write your own d*mn book!
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Format: Hardcover
When I read a book I like to think there was a raison d'etre behind it's publication. I can't make the connection with this one. It's time, I think, to let the whole Diaghilev thing go. Sure, it was a time of great creativity in the Arts, and, he was his own fundraiser, and his own master, without the stultifying effects of any official committees to hamper his artistic vision. Such a person could not possibly exist today. If Diaghilev had one fault, it was that he made the Arts, and certainly, ballet, much too popular.
This book reminded me of Nesta MacDonald's "Diaghilev Observed" in as much that the editors/authors are writing about something they are not fully party to and have no real understanding of, and therefore, no real conception of what they are about. Whereas Mrs MacDonald tried to turn Diaghilev into the Conversative Party Member for Kensington [South], Garafola and her colleagues seem to see Diaghilev as a staunch Republican with close affiliations with the Klu Klux Klan.
I'm afraid it's well nigh impossible to try to see Diaghilev as a Politically Correct Figure in the year 2000. He was a complex, paradoxical figure, with all, for better or worse, of the values and all of the prejudices of his time.
It would be too long and too tedious to enumerate the many many misconceptions and faulty logic in this book, but I will point out a few things: Diaghilev did NOT invent the one act ballet, and I nearly fell down when I saw that 'most of the earlier ballets in the Diaghilev repertoire are no longer performed'. HEL-LO? Amazing statement! And completely inaccurate. Isadora Duncan was NOT an influence on anyone, except, briefly, the young Michael Fokine. Isadora Duncan was a joke!
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