I must confess I haven’t yet read Jennifer Homans’ acclaimed but controversial history of ballet, Apollo’s Angels. I’m working hard on my second novel and have been knee deep in prison and cop memoirs and haven’t had time for much outside reading. I hope to read it soon though.
In the meantime, I have read some of the reviews, including Laura Jacobs’ in the WSJ and Toni Bentley’s in the NY Times. The two reviews focus on very different aspects of the book so it’s interesting to read both of them. Bentley says Homans is best on Balanchine (both Bentley and Homans danced with him). But Jacobs find the earlier sections enlightening as well.
The controversial aspects of the book seem to be toward the end when Homans argues that, for various reason (but according to Bentley many of them being that Balanchine has passed and his legacy is not being kept alive), ballet is a dying art.
I don’t want to go on too much since I haven’t yet read the book, but I will say that ballet seems to be alive and well in many European and Latin American countries. I do notice a real influx of visitors to my blog whenever the big European stars perform with ABT. I don’t think Roberto Bolle, Alina Cojocaru and Natalia Osipova fans think ballet is dying and certainly not because Balanchine is no longer with us. Ballet may be less popular in this country since the Baryshnikov era passed though, and it remains to be seen whether movies like Mao’s Last Dancer and Black Swan can do anything to revive it. I’m doubtful but want to be hopeful. I think it’s more likely that Natalie Portman marrying Benjamin Millepied will draw audiences to ballet than the actual movie will.
But then I recently ran across this interview with Homans over at the Ballet Bag, a London blog. At the beginning of the post, the writers say audiences there have been dwindling a bit and they’re worried about the future of the art form as well. Which scares me.
Anyway, has anyone read the book?
Another thing I wanted to call attention to is the book cover. The top one is the British cover, the second the American. Which do you guys like better, and think will sell more books? Just about every single time I see a European cover beside an American cover, I like the European better. But maybe it’s just me.