SHADOWPLAY by Donna Perlmutter


Antony Tudor's Life in Dance
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 Antony Tudor was born to a working-class family in London in 1908. By the time of his death in New York in 1987, he was universally recognized as one of the major forces in the development of modern American ballet. In the ballet world, he was equally recognized as one of the most emotionally manipulative, at times even cruel, of choreographers to work with. Perlmutter (dance critic for The Los Angeles Times) herein argues that this was the flip side of Tudor's contribution to dance: His fervent interest in intense emotion and human reaction was the cornerstone both of his ballets and of his working methods. She traces Tudor's development from his beginnings in London, where he was student, dancer, administrator, and general dogsbody with Marie Rambert's fledgling company. He emigrated to the US just before WW II at the invitation of what was then called simply Ballet Theatre (later, A.B.T.). Perlmutter describes the emotional backdrop for the creation of his ballets: Jardin Aux Lilas (1936), Pillar of Fire (1942), and Dark Elegies (1937) among the most enduring. Throughout, she stresses the impact of Tudor's lifelong, tangled, tempestuous relationship with dancer Hugh Laing (portrayed here as being wildly unstable), calling him Tudor's ``lover, his Doppelganger-Muse-Soulmate, the only one with whom he shared his innermost thoughts.'' And on the inevitable comparison to Balanchine, Perlmutter quotes Tudor himself: ``George concerns himself with motion and I concern myself with emotion.'' Other differences stand out: In spite of a long association with A.B.T. and its precursors, Tudor never found the kind of home, support, and financial backing that Balanchine did at the New York City Ballet. Certainly, it is the Balanchine style that is in vogue now. But to see a well-performed Tudor ballet is to realize anew the haunting impact and drama of his work. Perlmutter provides some real insights into the atmosphere in which Tudor's ballets were born.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-670-83937-X
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991