Apollo's Angels | Granta

  • Published: 01/09/2011
  • ISBN: 9781847082565
  • 140x20mm
  • 672 pages

Apollo’s Angels

Jennifer Homans

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.

Superb history of ballet from a dancer turned academic

Sunday Times

Homans, a former dancer, is exceptionally good at placing dance in the context of its times and explaining why events such as the French Revolution or the abolition of serfdom in Tsarist Russia affected the course and development of this art form

Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph

Homans writes with translucent beauty and authority of [Ballet's] lost past ... The case that Homans makes wholly convincingly, in the case of Taglioni and others, is that the great dancers and choreographers of the 18th to the 20th centuries succeeded at least in part because of their ability to reproduce the "emotional tone" of the eras in which they lived

Luke Jennings, Observer

The Author

Jennifer Homans was a professional dancer who trained at the School of American Ballet. When she retired from dancing, she studied European and American cultural history at Columbia and New York Universities and then turned to dance criticism. She lives in New York City.

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