Michel Fokine became a ballet master (choreographer and composer) ""unexpectedly"" -- after years of intensive preparation...


FOKINE: Memoirs of a Ballet Master

Michel Fokine became a ballet master (choreographer and composer) ""unexpectedly"" -- after years of intensive preparation first as a student and then as an instructor in Russia's Imperial Ballet School. He was an outstanding performer and interpreter of the ballet, but he rightly considered it much more important that his tangible creations and contributions be the things for which he is best remembered. Not only did he -- almost singlehanded --introduce vital reforms into the concept of the dance, but he composed 80 of the most important and famous works in the international ballet repertoire. Written in the first person, most of the book is presumably autobiographical; the artist's son apparently added only a few connecting paragraphs at the end of the narrative, and a brief note on his distinguished father's passing. Balletomanes, always wildly divided in their views of this phenomenally egocentric artist's activities when not actually performing, will have a field day as they glimpse into his warm family life and discover his emphatic opinions of other famous figures (Pavlova, Nijinsky, etc.) among whom he lived and worked. But this is absolutely not a book for balletomanes alone. Fokine participated actively and well in an orchestra of Russian folk instruments; he painted seriously, and traveled, wrote, and lived with a marvelous vigor. Because Fokine phrased his many explicit discussions of individual ballets, their creation and performance, in precise and simple language, the book's value as a technical document does not interefere with its universal appeal as a study of the artistic personality. This is a book that tingles with life.

Pub Date: June 8, 1961


Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1961