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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Apollo's Angels

The first parts in the book about the history of ballet out of the 1600s French royal court are so boring that I skipped several chapters and went straight to Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. It got a lot more interesting. And the next chapter was all about the Soviet ballet, which is riveting! All the characters, dancing on the edge of political demise and physical destruction at the hands of Stalin's machines ... Fascinating and, of course, eerily recognizable to me, who inevitably saw 红色娘子军 in childhood.

And the poor composers! Khachaturian, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. Just trying to imagine Prokofiev being humiliated and terrified by the clueless and vulgar and stupid party bosses filled my eyes with tears.

I am impressed by Homans' nuanced assessment and sympathy for not only Soviet ballet but also the social and cultural context behind the Soviet ballet and their domestic audience. Instead of repeating the same Cold War ideology, which colored Western views of Soviet ballet as much as it did Soviet's view of Western ballet, she dug deeper and looked closely and made an effort to keep an open mind without losing the critical eye.

Plus, some of the gossip and dirt are pretty delicious and satisfy my morbid curiosity about colorful personalities.

Out of curiosity I went on YouTube and watched bits of the prototypical Soviet ballet "Spartacus" and then George Balanchine's "Apollo". Shit. I definitely prefer Balanchine to the Soviet crap. Does that mean I've been corrupted by the decadence of the capitalist culture? :D

(BTW I prefer Jerome Robbins.) 

2 comments:

Map said...

最近我在缓慢地听这本书。我没找到讲Petipa的部分,倒是找到Bournonville的章节。

Jun said...

讲 Petipa 的部分在 Part 2, Chapter 1,关于沙俄宫廷芭蕾历史的那段。

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