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BALLET AND MODERN DANCE: A Concise History by Jack Anderson



Pub Date: April 30th, 1986
ISBN: 0871271729
Publisher: Princeton Book Co.

A history meant to be read with a highlighter in hand. The author, a dance critic for The New York Times, tosses a few tidbits to balletomanes, but gears his text to readers with little or no previous knowledge of dance. He avoids technical terms, carefully defining even ""arabesque"" and ""pointe work,"" and places each development in cultural context. Anderson divides his overview into 10 chapters, from the contemplative ""The Pleasures of Dance History"" to the current ""The Dancing World,"" with ""The Sunshine and Moonlight of Romantic Ballet"" and ""The Phoenix of Modern Dance"" in between. At each chapter's end, he includes readings from contemporary articles, manuals and reviews. An excerpt from Carlo Blasis' 1828 Code of Terpischore admonishes dancers that ""Nothing is of greater importance than frequent practice,"" and continues in words that could be a quote from any modern ballet-master. Rather than writing about dance as a history of individual performers, choreographers and impresarios, Anderson stresses the continuity of the art. Unfortunately, this leads to such passages as: ""The art of movement is among the oldest of arts. That is not really surprising, for so much about us is in perpetual motion. Rivers run, tides ebb and flow, leaves on trees and glass blades in a meadow all bend or tremble in the winds. The seasons pass. Day gives way to night, and night to a new day."" Nevertheless, he manages to hit all the historical highlights. This book would doubtless delight a harried college student.