Author(s): 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.
"The only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet . . . an eloquent and lasting elegy to an unlasting art." - The New York Times Book Review
"A delight to read, massively informed yet remarkably agile . . . The story of ballet offers a singular perspective on the evolution of our culture: a fascinating mirror on the arts. Nowhere is this narrative told more amply and compellingly than in Jennifer Homans's triumphant Apollo's Angels." - The Washington Post
"Here is a book of immense ambition - a one-volume history of ballet - and of considerable accomplishment. Jennifer Homans, whom we know primarily as The New Republic's provocative dance critic, shows herself to be both dogged and graceful as a historian - a rare and welcome combination of qualities." - The New York Review of Books
"Intellectually rigorous, beautifully written, brilliantly structured." - San Francisco Chronicle
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 is married to the historian Tony Judt, and lives in New York City.