Apollo's Angels by Jennifer Homans
A History of Ballet

69%

11 Critic Reviews

Insights like this give Homans's history profound resonance and it's only rarely that her contextualising looks forced.
-Guardian

Synopsis

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully told, Apollo’s Angels—the first cultural history of ballet ever written—is a groundbreaking work. From ballet’s origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France’s Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. In the twentieth century, émigré dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance. Jennifer Homans, a historian, critic, and former professional ballerina, wields a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. Her admiration and love for the ballet, asEntertainment Weekly notes, brings “a dancer’s grace and sure-footed agility to the page.”

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • LOS ANGELES TIMES • SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE • PUBLISHERS WEEKLY



 

About Jennifer Homans

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Jennifer Homans was a professional dancer trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, and The School of American Ballet. She performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Currently the dance critic for The New Republic, she has written for The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Review of Books, and The Australian. She earned her B.A. at Columbia University and her Ph.D. in modern European history at New York University, where she is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence.
 
Published November 2, 2010 by Random House. 672 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Apollo's Angels
All: 11 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on Aug 27 2010

The author artfully choreographs a huge, sometimes unruly cast, producing a work of elegance, emotion and enduring importance.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Mar 09 2010

Her cultural critique, as well as her expansive and penetrating view of ballet's history, recommend this book to all readers who care about the history of the arts as well as their present and possible future.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alastair Macaulay on Jan 04 2011

There are, it should be noted, errors and omissions...More problematic, however, is a tendency toward hyperbole...In a book that inclines to this kind of exaggeration, an epilogue arguing that ballet is dead arrives simply as one more overstatement.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Toni Bentley on Nov 26 2010

It has never been done, what Jennifer Homans has done in “Apollo’s Angels.” She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer B. Mcdonald on Nov 19 2010

...Jennifer Homans, a former professional ballet dancer turned historian and critic, whose enormous new history of classical ballet, “Apollo’s Angels,” was published this month.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Luke Jennings on Dec 04 2010

Insights like this give Homans's history profound resonance and it's only rarely that her contextualising looks forced.

Read Full Review of Apollo's Angels: A History of... | See more reviews from Guardian

Dallas News

Good
Reviewed by Manuel Mendoza on Nov 29 2010

She writes with clarity as well as complexity, weaving historical fact with analysis and context...Her major contribution, though, is animating ballet's beginnings for a 21st-century audience.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Howard on Nov 14 2010

The polemics aside, "Apollo's Angels" is an illuminating history much needed now. I hope that today's ballet viewers will read it.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by Claudia La Rocco on Nov 15 2010

...she has a way of mistaking her own subjective pronouncements for Olympian truth...Chief among her omissions is the American choreographer William Forsythe, who is widely acknowledged to have changed the face of contemporary ballet at the end of the 20th century.

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LA Times

Above average
on Dec 08 2011

In Homans’ controversial and much-discussed epilogue, she determined that “ballet is dying.” Given how persuasively the author shows that ballet has been no one fixed thing for centuries, it’s a death too soon foretold.

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California Literary Review

Above average
Reviewed by Ed Voves on Nov 29 2010

If today’s cultural elite can stir themselves from their plans for “the next gala,” long enough to consider Balanchine’s advice and Homans’ warning, then the “living line” of this most glorious of art forms may yet be preserved.

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