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Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; Unabridged CD edition (Feb. 17 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452601089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452601083
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.1 x 13.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,230,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"[The] book is a delight to read, massively informed yet remarkably agile." ---The Washington Post

About the Author

Jennifer Homans, currently the dance critic for the New Republic, is a former professional dancer trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, and the School of American Ballet.

Actress Kirsten Potter has performed on stage, film, and television, including roles on Medium, Bones, and Judging Amy. Her narrations have won AudioFile Earphones Awards, and she earned an Audie nomination for her reading of Rise Again by Ben Tripp.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a6416b4) out of 5 stars 79 reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7a4384) out of 5 stars misjudged Dec 24 2010
By yan ek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From everything I heard and read prior to receiving and reading this book for myself I expected to be irritated by it. It is extremely well written and some obscure details the author brings out with great clarity. I enjoyed everything except the epilogue and even that is not as bad as what I'd feared. The author clearly thinks that the present moment in ballet is the final death knell. Print matter is supposed to be dead, the theatre is supposed to be dead, classical music is supposed to be dead... It is just too facile an assumption. Some of the points I agree with but cannot see them in such dire terms. Dancers have become universal in their technique and lots of "cookie cutter" dancers are manufactured. Some of this is very regrettable but it is the world we live in now. Globalization is not restricted in dance or anywhere else. Choreography certainly is not at the low ebb she suggests. There will not BE another Balanchine or Ashton. Get over it. So many interesting choreographers are working just now it is impossible to see enough to actually judge. Someone else will come up that grabs everyone's attention and for awhile everyone will love them and then think after that nothing they do is any good any longer. That is our fault as critics in not allowing them to develop freely and being patient in their choreographic life. Everyone wants the next great ballet!!! Great choreographers makes bad ballet sometimes but if even one is good that is enough.

When Balanchine, Ashton,Tudor and the other great lions of dance were creating it was a rare opportunity that the major voices in dance were invited in to make ballets for other companies. Balanchine created only a handful of works outside NYCB and the same is true for Ashton and the Royal. Tudor left Rambert and London and devoted himself to life in New York. Times are different now as evidenced by Christopher Wheeldon and Morphoses or Ratmansky. ABT now does the same Balanchine ballets that they once looked at from a distance. Kylian works are everywhere, done mostly to profit the choreographer rather than enrich a dancers or an audience's experience. Everyone complained in times past that ballet was not run by good business principals and now, more and more, it is and that seems to please few as well. It would be wisest to be patient and offer patronage and support when one can and let the art form take its own course. In any case who made Ms. Homans the voice of authority because she is published?

The actual danger of this book is that someone might not know enough to think for themselves and let the author tell them ballet is dead. More people will go to dance performances than will read this book. When this changes, then worry. Go out and see a ballet.
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7a45d0) out of 5 stars Gift for the Ballet Lover Nov. 27 2010
By Eileen Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Put everything down and read this book! It will hold you spellbound. A beautifully written and produced history of ballet, this is a book that will be treasured by the ballet lover. The author covers ballet's earliest history in 16th century court dance up to the present. There are plentiful illustrations and photographs, and the author's commentary (she is dance critic for The New Republic) is incisive and informed. She writes glowingly of Balanchine and describes his major work. Though I knew much of the history of ballet through my reading, the author's critical lens casts a new light on this evanescent art form. I give my wholehearted appreciation to Jennifer Homans for transmuting the beauty of dance to the printed page.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7a4594) out of 5 stars The book I've been waiting for all my life Jan. 21 2011
By Penelope Ocha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I know ballet history. And I love dance. I expected that Apollo's Angels would be a pleasant addition to my shelves of ballet books and maybe add a few tidbits of information I did not know.

But this book as so much more. It's written by a thinking ex-dancer who can put the history of dance into a philosophical and cultural context. I'm sure that at nearly every page I was exclaiming ``oh, that's why'' or ``now I know.'' I think her explanation of the origins of ballet in the etiquette and self image of the Sun King's court is the best I've ever read.

I don't think I ever really understood the deep spirituality that underlies Balanchine's choreography until I read this book. It made me go back and spend hours watching videos of long-gone dancers on YouTube.

I'd quibble over a few things. Why didn't she include Mark Morris for example? And what's coming out of China and Japan? And I'm not sure her prognosis about the future of ballet need be quite so glum.

But at bottom, this book is a must for anyone who is halfway interested in the history of ballet, or, for that matter, the cultural history of the early 20th century. Thank you Jennifer Homans!
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7a4888) out of 5 stars Lacking Key Aspects of Scholarship Jan. 11 2014
By Rabid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
This is a lovely effort by an artist to capture the history of her art. Unfortunately, it was written by an artist and while I enjoyed the book, as a trained historian, I really did want to bash it against the walls at times.

"Apollo's Angels" is billed as an expansive look at the history of ballet, but it is not that. At least, not after the first quarter or so of the book. The history presented is the party line, what dancers are taught to believe and not question. It is also quite narrow in scope, looking only at the ballet schools that toe the traditional line. The cheaper balletic entertainments and the traveling companies that do specialty presentation are not addressed at all -- and then the author has the audacity to say that there is nothing new in ballet! Well, it's like reading only classic books and then deciding advant garde is dead. It's not good scholarship.

However, the history detailing the evolution of courtly dance to the ballets that are considered classics in our own time is superb. If it's a narrow history, I will applaud the depth of the book in this one narrow area. It's fascinating to find out that ballets I know and like are much changed from their original form even when they are advertised as true classics, the stump speeches of dance.

The author, sadly, never questions her sources or considers their bias. She wrote down the party line even when her own research should have easily shown her the logical inconsistency of it. If Italy had no balletic tradition, where were all these fabulous visiting Italian stars coming from? And, if Balanchine didn't like his dancers a particular way, why on earth do they all look the same in the included pictures. Why was there a terrible backlash against his physical ideals. She can't just say "oh, he liked variety" and think that covers the entirety of the controversy.

Things I very much WISH the author had talked about -- Chinese Ballet, the Trocks, Cirque Du Soliel (which incorporates quite a bit of ballet), Bob Fosse, the obsession with dance and althleticism in the 70s and 80s that left a profound mark on how people viewed dance. Also, the development of the toe shoe from what it was to what it is (completely glossed over!) and the controversies of the twentieth century.

In the end I was very disappointed with the overall scholarship and the lack of real breadth in the work. What was written was generally good, however. But what was missing was ultimately conspicuous.

Ps. Several of the images were originally in color but were printed in black and white even though they appeared on the special pages for color images within the book. Not clear on why that was done.
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7a49cc) out of 5 stars Glorious! Nov. 10 2010
By CJO - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Apollo's Angels and I can't say enough in praise of this book. As a dance enthusiast, I have never read a more complete, intriguing, and accessible history of ballet. Ms. Homan's writing is lucid, fresh, and at times astonishing. I fully recommend this book. And, it would make a great Christmas present for any balletomane.