Apollo’s Angels

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Released in 2010, Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels quickly established itself as the leading general history of ballet. Now available in paperback, as an e-book and audiobook, Apollo’s Angels has received widespread praise for its comprehensiveness – and generated a splash of controversy with its final chapter lamenting ballet’s present state.

This book unfolds a sweeping account of ballet, from its origins in the court spectacles of sixteenth-century Italy and France to the emergence of distinctive national styles in Britain, France, Denmark, America and Russia. It is the story of how ballet has been shaped over four centuries by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism and the Cold War.

Homans’ writing is engaging and accessible, and her book synthesises an huge amount of existing material to cover all the key events and developments that have made ballet what it is today. Ideal for general readers and ballet newbies, as well as students, teachers and researchers starting out, this is a book you can read from cover-to-cover or simply dip into as required.

For fans of ballet, Apollo’s Angels does have its flaws – Homans is not above falling into cliches and we regard her derisive treatment of British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan as unforgivable. But the author is on home turf with her back-to-back chapters on Balanchine and ballet’s development in America, reflecting her background as a professional ballet dancer in the States.

  • The New York Times Book Review, 10 best books, 2010

You’ll find dozens of reviews of Apollo’s Angels on Amazon and the web. Alternatively, if you’re after a ‘less words, more pictures’ history of ballet, try Susan Au’s Ballet and Modern Dance, now in its 3rd edition.

Random House, 2010. Hardback, Paperback & Ebook, 672 pages.
Audio CD and Audio Download (unabridged) 23 hours and 26 minutes.
ISBN-10: 1400060605
ISBN-13: 978-1400060603
ASIN: B004NALQ06 (audio)