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Robert Gottlieb, Reading Dance

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My local paper's book section has a brief notice today:

Reading Dance, edited by Robert Gottlieb (Knopf). A massive -- nearly 1,400 pages -- anthology of the best writing on the most physically demanding of the fine arts. (November)]

Does anyone have any additional information?

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Gottlieb, who has previously compiled a book of writings on Jazz, has been working on the compilation of dance writings for some time now. i understand galleys for this book are already out, so it's on its way.

i think it covers a wide span of dance writings in English (or translated into English). i'm not sure on the dates of the earliest writings but the latest ones will be rather recent.

as i understand the scheme, it's to include more essay-styled writings and not (daily) review-styled articles. i know when keith money was interested in borrowing a scan of a pavlova photo from me, he learned that there are to be no illustrations in the book.

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An excerpt of the article I wrote in 1997 on Agon (the section on the pas de deux) is in this anthology.

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Yay I can't wait. I hope Gottlieb includes some of his own writings.

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Thank you Bart for alerting us to this. I'll be doing a preview of the book in the coming weeks on DanceView Times. I would urge anybody interested in this to pre-order it from Amazon - it's now listed for $29.70 instead of the $45 on-sale price. And let me say, having seen a preview copy, it's totally worth it. In fact, I've ordered a real copy myself. The book is amazing! It's broken down by subject. Each subject has anywhere from 5-20 articles. For example, "Ashton" has about five articles, followed by "Ashton Ballets" with another 5 or so articles, Balanchine, Balanchine Ballets, Lost Balanchine Ballets etc... There's a section with first persons, a section for critics, another for random essays, Baryshnikov, Nureyev, and Farrell get their own sections. So does Sleeping Beauty. It will be a book I see myself revisiting often, even if I've read those pieces before or have them in other collections (like the Croce). I'm very proud that BTers Leigh's wonderful piece on Agon is excerpted and rg has several profiles in the book. There's even some recipes from Tanquil LeClerq's cookbook. It will be published November 4.

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Thanks, Dale. I was happy to see that the book qualifies for Free Shipping. Looking forward to your preview.

Leigh, regarding the Agon piece: Shortly after joining Ballet Talk I came upon a collection of your writings which references the Ballet Review article "Four Decades of Agon." Reading these pieces played a big role in re-igniting my fascination with/ passion for/ and deep respect for the art of ballet. I owe you a great deal.

I gather that the Agon piece has not been re-published and is not available on-line or elsewhere, so I look forward to finding at least part of it in the Gottlieb anthology.

In the meantime, for Ballet Talk members who may not have seen them previously, here's a link to other pieces that are on line. (I hope it's okay to post it. Please delete if it is not.)

http://members.aol.com/lwitchel/dance.htm

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Thanks for the kind words. I'd just like people to realize if they go to read those pieces that they are more than a decade old. It was strange enough to read the Agon article as part of this process - it was written around that time and frankly though the subject is important and it's long I don't consider it an example of my best writing. It was one of the first articles I ever wrote and I've done better since.

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Just a note, if you're ordering from amazon from Ballet Talk so that our site earns the commission,

If you don't order via the search box next to our logo or from the Ballet Talk Amazon Mini-Store from the top toolbar, Ballet Talk will not get a commission on the sale.

Creating a link after using the search box and posting it here does not persist the ID that attributes the purchase to Ballet Talk.

We do earn commission through amazon Marketplace sellers ("Buy new and used from $..."), from sign-ups for amazon.prime, and for the new "Video on Demand" feature.

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Just a note, if you're ordering from amazon from Ballet Talk so that our site earns the commission,

If you don't order via the search box next to our logo or from the Ballet Talk Amazon Mini-Store from the top toolbar, Ballet Talk will not get a commission on the sale.

Creating a link after using the search box and posting it here does not persist the ID that attributes the purchase to Ballet Talk.

We do earn commission through amazon Marketplace sellers ("Buy new and used from $..."), from sign-ups for amazon.prime, and for the new "Video on Demand" feature.

Thanks, Helene, for the reminder.

My pre-ordered copy -- to be shipped Nov. 10 -- was $29.70 (as Dale posted), discounted from a list price of $45. There was a note that I would be charged less if they subsequently decided to reduce this price even further. So, the consumer benefits as well as Ballet Talk. :excl:

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Sorry Helene. Yes, people should do a search for "Robert Gottlieb" and "Reading Dance" in the Amazon search engine at the top of the page.

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My copy just arrived 30 minutes ago from Amazon. 1330 pages! Feels like it weights 5 pounds. Definitely not something to slip into your pocket before heading out the door for an afternoon in the park.

A quick glance reveals amazing stuff -- real surprises -- a labor of love which could not be done on this level without someone with Gottlieb's vast literary and dance experience.

I would love to know about the choice of photograph for the front cover: a very young, bare-foot Martha Graham. And, on the back cover, a wonderful bare-chested Baryshnikov. (There are no other photos except for a small profile of Gottlieb with the author bio. This is a book packed with text -- incredible text.)

I opened the book randomly at page 800 and discovered an interview with Antoinette Sibley discussing her early days at the Royal Ballet.

Swan Lake I found very hard to get to grips with because I had a confusion: the kind of Swan Lake I adored was not the kind that suited me. What I loved was the very opulent, exaggerated Swan Lake -- Plisetska, back arched, legs up, crazy sort of things [ ...] Well now, I wasn't that kind of a dancer.

Great stuff. Has anyone else received their copy and perhaps gotten further into it than I have?

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My copy just arrived 30 minutes ago from Amazon. 1330 pages! Feels like it weights 5 pounds. Definitely not something to slip into your pocket before heading out the door for an afternoon in the park.

A quick glance reveals amazing stuff -- real surprises -- a labor of love which could not be done on this level without someone with Gottlieb's vast literary and dance experience.

...

Great stuff. Has anyone else received their copy and perhaps gotten further into it than I have?

I received my copy weeks ago and also find it a treasure trove of ballet writing, almost entirely from English and American writers. But I'm starting to find some oddities, like seeing only two reviews by Arlene Croce on Balanchine, both on relatively minor ballets (Mozartiana and Who Cares). Equally surprising were finding just ten pages on Nureyev and twenty pages on Fonteyn. But overall, this is a spectacular compendium of writing on ballet choreographers and their ballets, as well as ballet dancers over the past 100 years.

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There's a review of Reading Dance in the December 7, 2008 issue of The New York Times Book Review. To hark back to my days as a copywriter for book ads, "In dance -- as in this tremendous anthology -- there's something for every taste." This is no doubt true, although I have yet to move on past the Suzanne Farrell section in my copy. :sweatingbullets:

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Mozartiana a minor ballet?! I strongly disagree, although just in passing, because this is not the thread for that.

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Mozartiana a minor ballet?! I strongly disagree, although just in passing, because this is not the thread for that.

I think this is appropriate for this thread since it concerns what's in the book. I agree, 'Mozartiana' is anything but a minor ballet. It's tall even, one might say.

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Immense, I'd even say, evoking multitudes, as it does for me, with its little cast, which we see only singly or in unusual groups, much as you encounter people in life, and all together only very late, and with four composers' voices to be heard along the way in the score. (Whether this last had anything to do with Mr. B's choice of it when he may have known he would soon take leave of all of us, I don't know.) But we've likely got a thread or two for Mozartiana already, where our ruminations are more accessible to the rest of us here.

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Got this as a Christmas present from my husband :)

I'm keeping it on my coffee table to show off a bit for some guests that are coming. Is that wrong? :)

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I'm keeping it on my coffee table to show off a bit for some guests that are coming. Is that wrong? :)
Mr. Manners replies: "It's only if the book is written in a language you cannot read. Otherwise: flaunt it!" :)

Hope you enjoy the book, Perky. I've been dipping into it for a month or so and find the selection of pieces to be remarkably varied and fascinating. But it will -- and should, I think -- take a long time to finish.

My most recent dip: Llincoln Kirstein on Nijinsky. Here Kirstein confronts the issue of individual and majority taste:

Nijinsky had to contentdtwo generations of able and pleasing performers who had utter confidence in their taste and training and almost no confidence in his creative talent. Today the concept of grace can be a crux for semantic or theological discussion, but when he first worked, grace spelled beauty. As many of us have mindlessly repeated, truth is beauty." ... But one oddly conditioned young Slav needed to know a great deal more. He put beauty, as defined by his epoch, mercilessly to the question.
Good stuff, and something with the potential to keep a Ballet Talk discussion going for quite a while!

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All the writings by Edwin Denby are by far the most enjoyable in that entire large book, but especially "Against Meaning in Ballet" and "Superficial Thoughts on Foreign Classicism." This was clearly a critic who never lost his common touch, and that's just a joy to read.

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There's a review of Reading Dance in the December 7, 2008 issue of The New York Times Book Review. To hark back to my days as a copywriter for book ads, "In dance -- as in this tremendous anthology -- there's something for every taste." This is no doubt true, although I have yet to move on past the Suzanne Farrell section in my copy.

The Farrell section is choice. I especially appreciated the Ballet Review interviews conducted by David Daniel with SF and Diana Adams (although the latter may have had a hard time getting a word in edgewise - reminded me of those fake interviews Nabokov used to concoct).

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I had been looking through this book at Borders for quite a while and finally decided to get it when a "40% discount" coupon arrived via email. I am an undisciplined consumer so I not only got the Gottlieb book for $27.00 but also paid full price for "Red Carpet: 21 Years of Fame and Fashion" by Frank Trapper. I should return it and purchase it through the Ballet Talk Amazon.com link.

Questions of commerce aside, this like a terrific book, something one can open almost anywhere and get lost for an hour or an afternoon. Gottlieb rounded up most of the usual suspects and it is nice to see, in addition to Leigh, that Nancy Dalva's work was included.

I happened to open it to a very brief notice by Denby for the New York Herald Tribune in 1944 entitled "The Rockettes and Rhythm" which is a compact and illuminating discussion of the different uses of rhythm in ballet and tap. It also contains the following: "The Music Hall has a charming chorus of classical-ballet girls too..." which made me smile.

I love books like this--perfect for wintertime, staying inside during a blizzard and wallowing in its 1300 pages.

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I'm almost ashamed to admit it because it sounds facetious, but I read this book in the bathtub. It takes me to my happy place and relaxes me.

I read Nancy Goldner's piece on The Bolshoi from The Nation (1975) the other night and laughed out loud at her description of Grigorovich's pas de deux in Ivan The Terrible;

"Then, for the grand finale, he boosts her straight up into the air, as if she were the prize trophy of a turkey shoot."

I just love visually descriptive criticism like that!

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