With unique expertise in dance and what it means to dance, Jennifer Homans shows rare insider understanding of Balanchine's inexhaustible creativity... A magnificent and enthralling biography with an epic historical sweep, inflected by the poignancy and sensitivity of an intimate literary portrait
One of the best stories of a Petersburger coming to America I've ever read. This isn't dutiful biography, this is literature as vibrant and alive as Balanchine's art
Gary Shteyngart, author Our Country Friends and Super Sad True Love Story
Jennifer Homans has not only resurrected George Balanchine down to the perfumed silk foulard, offering up a life of fairy-tale turns and tenacious demons, of prodigious imagination and impossible standards, of five wives and the slew of almost-wives. She has restored the Russia that disappeared out from behind Balanchine and the lush mirage that endured. More remarkably, she pins dance to the page with the precision, intensity, and range her subject prized. The result is lyrical and commanding, among the most electrifying pas de deux you're likely to find on the biography shelf.
Stacy Schiff, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, New York Times bestselling author of The Witches and Cleopatra
From the Same Author
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.