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Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet

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Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet Cover

ISBN13: 9781400060603
ISBN10: 1400060605
Condition:
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. A ballerina dancing The Sleeping Beauty today is a link in a long chain of dancers stretching back to sixteenth-century Italy and France: Her graceful movements recall a lost world of courts, kings, and aristocracy, but her steps and gestures are also marked by the dramatic changes in dance and culture that followed. Ballet has been shaped by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism, and the Cold War. Apollo's Angels is a groundbreaking work — the first cultural history of ballet ever written, lavishly illustrated and beautifully told.

Ballet is unique: It has no written texts or standardized notation. It is a storytelling art passed on from teacher to student. The steps are never just the steps - -they are a living, breathing document of a culture and a tradition. And while ballet's language is shared by dancers everywhere, its artists have developed distinct national styles. French, Italian, Danish, Russian, English, and American traditions each have their own expression, often formed in response to political and societal upheavals.

From ballet's origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France's Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. It was in Russia that dance developed into the form most familiar to American audiences: The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker originated at the Imperial court. In the twentieth century, emigre dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance.

Jennifer Homans is a historian and critic who was also a professional dancer: She brings to Apollo's Angels a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. She traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance in clean, clear prose, drawing readers into the intricacies of the art with vivid descriptions of dances and the artists who made them. Her admiration and love for the ballet shines through on every page. Apollo's Angels is an authoritative work, written with a grace and elegance befitting its subject.

Review:

"It has never been done before, what Jennifer Homans has done in Apollo's Angels. She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet. Homans' accomplishment is akin to setting the most delicate and beautiful of all the imperial Faberge eggs into a fissure high on Mount Rushmore and tracking its unlikely survival.Inspired. The story of Balanchine has been told before, and at greater lengths, but never better…An eloquent and lasting elegy to an unlasting art." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"A tour de force. The publication of Apollo's Angels is itself a moment in the magnificent history of classical dance." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Magisterial… Apollo's Angels is a cultural history of the highest order…Homans brings to the page a practical knowledge gained in an earlier career as a dancer. Thus she leaps easily from big picture political trends in one sentence to the minutiae of a dancer’s steps in the next, from how dances were made to who the patrons were…Fascinating reading." Bookforum

Synopsis:

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. A ballerina dancing The Sleeping Beauty today is a link in a long chain of dancers stretching back to sixteenth-century Italy and France: Her graceful movements recall a lost world of courts, kings, and aristocracy, but her steps and gestures are also marked by the dramatic changes in dance and culture that followed. Ballet has been shaped by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism, and the Cold War. Apollo’s Angels is a groundbreaking work—the first cultural history of ballet ever written, lavishly illustrated and beautifully told.

Ballet is unique: It has no written texts or standardized notation. It is a storytelling art passed on from teacher to student. The steps are never just the steps—they are a living, breathing document of a culture and a tradition. And while ballet’s language is shared by dancers everywhere, its artists have developed distinct national styles. French, Italian, Danish, Russian, English, and American traditions each have their own expression, often formed in response to political and societal upheavals.

From ballet’s origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France’s Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. It was in Russia that dance developed into the form most familiar to American audiences: The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker originated at the Imperial court. In the twentieth century, émigré dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance.

Jennifer Homans is a historian and critic who was also a professional dancer: She brings to Apollo’s Angels a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. She traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance in clean, clear prose, drawing readers into the intricacies of the art with vivid descriptions of dances and the artists who made them. Her admiration and love for the ballet shines through on every page. Apollo’s Angels is an authoritative work, written with a grace and elegance befitting its subject.

About the Author

Jennifer Homans was a professional dancer trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, and The School of American Ballet. She performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Currently the dance critic for The New Republic, she has written for The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Review of Books, and The Australian. She earned her B.A. at Columbia University and her Ph.D. in modern European history at New York University, where she is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Heather G, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Heather G)
This gorgeous book on the history of ballet was some ten years in the making. Homans traces ballet's origins in 16th century France and Italy to the ballet diaspora in Russia, The United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States with incredible detail. Fascinating profiles of great dancers and choreographers, including Najinsky, Fonteyn and Balanchine, give the story of ballet greater context and emotional punch. Even dance fans who are not ballet die-hards will appreciate finding new insights into the role of dance's evolving place in culture and society at large, and for this reviewer, it sparked a renewed interest in the genre.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
BTrattler, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by BTrattler)
Fabulous account.
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book dude, December 12, 2010 (view all comments by book dude)
When I came into Powell's recently to purchase this title, a sales person informed me the single copy you had in stock had sold the previous week and that you "might" be reordering it some time in the future. Given the tremendous critical response to the book in print on on radio, I thought this was an odd response. Now that "Apollo's Angels" has made the New York Times list of Top Ten Books of the year, I hope that "might" will turn to a "will."
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400060603
Subtitle:
A History of Ballet
Author:
Homans, Jennifer
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Dance - Classical & Ballet
Subject:
Dance - Classical
Subject:
Ballet -- History.
Subject:
Dance-Ballet
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20101102
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 PHOTO INSERTS+ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
672
Dimensions:
9.55 x 6.5 x 1.5 in 2.475 lb

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Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet Sale Hardcover
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$9.98 In Stock
Product details 672 pages Random House - English 9781400060603 Reviews:
"Review" by , "It has never been done before, what Jennifer Homans has done in Apollo's Angels. She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet. Homans' accomplishment is akin to setting the most delicate and beautiful of all the imperial Faberge eggs into a fissure high on Mount Rushmore and tracking its unlikely survival.Inspired. The story of Balanchine has been told before, and at greater lengths, but never better…An eloquent and lasting elegy to an unlasting art."
"Review" by , "A tour de force. The publication of Apollo's Angels is itself a moment in the magnificent history of classical dance."
"Review" by , "Magisterial… Apollo's Angels is a cultural history of the highest order…Homans brings to the page a practical knowledge gained in an earlier career as a dancer. Thus she leaps easily from big picture political trends in one sentence to the minutiae of a dancer’s steps in the next, from how dances were made to who the patrons were…Fascinating reading."
"Synopsis" by , One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. A ballerina dancing The Sleeping Beauty today is a link in a long chain of dancers stretching back to sixteenth-century Italy and France: Her graceful movements recall a lost world of courts, kings, and aristocracy, but her steps and gestures are also marked by the dramatic changes in dance and culture that followed. Ballet has been shaped by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism, and the Cold War. Apollo’s Angels is a groundbreaking work—the first cultural history of ballet ever written, lavishly illustrated and beautifully told.

Ballet is unique: It has no written texts or standardized notation. It is a storytelling art passed on from teacher to student. The steps are never just the steps—they are a living, breathing document of a culture and a tradition. And while ballet’s language is shared by dancers everywhere, its artists have developed distinct national styles. French, Italian, Danish, Russian, English, and American traditions each have their own expression, often formed in response to political and societal upheavals.

From ballet’s origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France’s Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. It was in Russia that dance developed into the form most familiar to American audiences: The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker originated at the Imperial court. In the twentieth century, émigré dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance.

Jennifer Homans is a historian and critic who was also a professional dancer: She brings to Apollo’s Angels a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. She traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance in clean, clear prose, drawing readers into the intricacies of the art with vivid descriptions of dances and the artists who made them. Her admiration and love for the ballet shines through on every page. Apollo’s Angels is an authoritative work, written with a grace and elegance befitting its subject.

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