Apollo's Angels is a major new history of classical ballet. It begins in the courts of Europe, where ballet was an aspect of aristocratic etiquette and a political event as much as it was an art. The story takes the reader from the sixteenth century through to our own time, from Italy and France to Britain, Denmark, Russia and contemporary America ...
Apollo's Angels is a major new history of classical ballet. It begins in the courts of Europe, where ballet was an aspect of aristocratic etiquette and a political event as much as it was an art. The story takes the reader from the sixteenth century through to our own time, from Italy and France to Britain, Denmark, Russia and contemporary America. The reader learns how ballet reflected political and cultural upheavals, how dance and dancers were influenced by the Renaissance and French Classicism, by Revolution and Romanticism, by Expressionism and Bolshevism, Modernism and the Cold War. Homans shows how and why 'the steps' were never just the steps: they were a set of beliefs and a way of life. She takes the reader into the lives of dancers and traces the formal evolution of technique, choreography and performance. Her book ends by looking at the contemporary crisis in ballet now that 'the masters are dead and gone' and offers a passionate plea for the centrality of classical dance in our civilization. Apollo's Angels is a book with broad popular appeal: beautifully written and illustrated, it is essential reading for anyone interested in history, culture and art.
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The author's credentials include performance under the direction of masters such as Balanchine, success as a respected critic, and she holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Modern European History from New York University. Her review of ballet over the past 400 years is both academically and ascetically triumphant. We had high expectations when we ordered this book all of which have been far exceeded by the work in-hand.
Publishers Weekly, 2010-11-01 In an important and original work of cultural history, New Republic dance critic Homans places ballet-an art often viewed as hermetic and esoteric-in the larger context of the times and societies in which it evolved, flourished, and flagged, only to be revitalized by an infusion of fresh ideas. That revitalization could come from a ballet master like Jean-Georges Noverre, presented by Homans as an important Enlightenment figure whose ideas on reforming ballet were consonant with those of Diderot on reforming theater. Renewal came from the genius of dancers like Marie Taglioni, the incarnation of romanticism, whose originality, Homans indisputably shows, reached far beyond dancing up on her tippy-toes. But in a closing section that will be hotly debated, this exhilarating account sounds a despairing note: "ballet is dying," she declares. Not only is the creative well running dry and performances dull, but more crucially, Homans sees today's values as inimical to those of ballet ("We are all dancers now," she writes, evoking what she sees as a misguided egalitarianism that denies an art rooted in discipline and virtuosity). Her cultural critique, as well as her expansive and penetrating view of ballet's history, recommend this book to all readers who care about the history of the arts as well as their present and possible future. Color and b&w illus. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-02-28 Holmes's magisterial history of ballet is even better in audio. Kirsten Potter has a deep, smooth, sensuous voice that sounds as cultivated as the art form she describes. With pacing that allows the listener to savor the musicality of former ballerina Holmes's sentences, their lulling alliteration and lively wit, Potter brings the ambitious study of ballet's 500-year history (and bleak prognostications for its future) to life. Potter's French accent could use a bit of work; it's clumsy and forced, but doesn't detract too much from the pleasure of this panoramic look at the art's singularity, the discipline it demands (in Holmes's phrase, it is "a grammar of movement"), and the liberation it allows. A Random hardcover. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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