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Ballet books for Christmas?


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Seeing as it's not long before we start wondering what to give our ballet-loving friends and relations, and even more importantly, what to say when our loved ones ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" (or perhaps, if they're not that direct, what broad hints to give), I thought it might be helpful if we suggested currently-in-print ballet books that we know and love.

Here are my two suggestions:

 

Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes 1909-1929 [Hardcover]

 

Jane Pritchard (Editor), Geoffrey Marsh (Editor)

 

This is the companion volume from the 2010 V&A exhibition and it's gorgeous. The quality of the colour reproduction is unusually high so you can really appreciate the vividness of all those Bakst (and others') designs.

 

Robert Tewsley: Dancing beyond borders - Robert Tewsley: Tanz über alle Grenzen

 

Iris Julia Buhrle

 

This is a recent addition to the sadly disappearing genre of the Beautiful Ballet Book. It's coffee-table-book format, and very lavishly illustrated with many colour and black-and-white photos of Robert Tewsley, who danced with The National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet, New York City Ballet, and the Royal Ballet, and has guested with many companies, including BRB. Text is in German and English. Great for fans of Robert Tewsley (obviously) but also if you want a book of beautiful ballet pictures of a true danseur noble or pictures of the major ballet rep. Major colour multi-page spreads of:

Neumeier's Lady of the Camellias (with Sue Jin Kang)

Bintley's Edward II (with Robert Gravenor)

MacMillan's Mayerling (with Vienna State Ballet)

Balanchine's Apollo (with Alicia Amatriain)

Cranko's Onegin

and much NYCB rep.

It's available through amazon.de or amazon.co.uk, but if you're in North America, I've found that shipping rates with amazon from Europe are very reasonable. Amazon's English site is describing it as "paperback" but it is in fact a hardback.

 

I would love to hear other people's suggestions!

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I've just ordered the Diaghilev book as a Christmas present to me from someone else (yet to be identified!). Relatives often ask me for suggestions for gifts and I usually struggle to think of anything and end up with something which I don't really want. This probably sounds terribly ungrateful but I hate to think of people spending money on gifts which aren't wanted. It's quite an expensive book and so it will probably end up as a joint Christmas / birthday present as my birthday is in January. Thanks for suggesting this book. We saw and enjoyed the exhibition although it was very crowded, but didn't buy the book because the shop had closed or we were in a rush.

 

As for other suggestions, there's the Deborah Bull book, the book about PNB which the author followed for a year and the book called something like Apollo's Angels. I haven't read any of them and so I can't comment on them personally but I believe that they were favourably reviewed by the critics. I'm sorry not to give the exact details of these books but I'm in a bit of a hurry and haven't got time to look them up now. I'll do so later.

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The PNB book is called "Where Snowflakes Dance and swear".

Apollo's Angels is a very thorough history of ballet, but the author has an agenda. It's telling that her history of ballet ends the year of Balanchine's death. Many people in the US have an almost cult-like reverence for Balanchine, as if he were the be-all and end-all of ballet. In her last chapter she rants on about how ballet is dead, and I can't agree with her. You in the UK will be quite astounded by how dismissive she is of MacMillan. Here's a sample "it remains the central fact of MacMillan's career that he cosistently sacrificed his talent ot an obsessive desire to make ballet something it was not...His balles showed too many lapses in judgment and taste. By the end, he had reduced ballet's eloquent language to a series of barely audible grunts."

 

!!!

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There's a nice new RB calendar too, called Great Ballet Partnerships. You can see it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0857752995/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00

 

The new book on Darcey is called 'Darcey Bussell: A Life in Pictures', also available from Amazon.

 

Must agree with the comment on Apollo's Angels. The book is great on the early history of ballet but the last chapters betray the author's rather parochial view of the current state of the art.

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