Jump to content


Robert Gottlieb, Reading Dancean anthology of dance writing


  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#16 Farrell Fan

Farrell Fan

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,930 posts

Posted 07 December 2008 - 10:21 AM

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:

#17 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,511 posts

Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:21 PM

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

#18 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:41 PM

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.

#19 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,511 posts

Posted 12 December 2008 - 02:50 PM

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.

#20 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 25 December 2008 - 12:37 PM

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? :)

#21 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 25 December 2008 - 12:55 PM

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!

#22 canbelto

canbelto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,875 posts

Posted 31 December 2008 - 09:03 AM

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.

#23 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,045 posts

Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:34 PM

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).

#24 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 04 November 2009 - 04:34 PM

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.

#25 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 05 November 2009 - 08:46 AM

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!

#26 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 05 November 2009 - 10:16 AM

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 identify completely. I tried Gottlieb in the bath, but found it a little too unwieldy. Product warning: it takes a LONG time for a book of 1300-plus pages to dry out after it's been accidentally dunked in water ... even if you manage to snatch it out after only a second or two.

Perky, you got me to turn to Goldner's piece on the Bolshoi. Like all first-rate critics, she has the skill of making you SEE what she is describing. This is especially when she is sharpening and wielding a knife. For example:

With the woman rarely touching ground in the duets, Grigorovich's pas de deux are actually pas d'un.

As soon as the Khachaturian score for Spartacus or the Prokofiev conglomerate for Ivan the Terrible hits adagio, one knows that the man is going to lift the lady across his shoulder blades, slide her down the side of his leg, and then flip her head first over one shoulder so as to block her face and chest from view. (How telling that we rarely see the woman full-face and upside up at those very moments supposedly most expressive of the characters' feelings.) Then, for the grand finale, he boosts her straight up into the air, as if she were the prize trophy of a turkey shoot.

The woman, besides needing an infant's cast-iron stomach to weather her upside-down state of being, must play dead so that we may admire the man's strength in maneuvering her body so easily around his own; in the last duet of Ivan the Terrible, Anastasia actually is dead.

Necrophiliac duets hae long been tempting to the many choreographers who have done Romeo and Juliet, but Grigorovich does not need the excuse of plot to indulge his fancy. Necrophilia is the subject of all his duets, and the only confusion in the metaphor is that what looks corpse-like to me stands for passion in Grigorovich's eyes. (*)


I'll never look at Spartacus again without thinking of that.

My most recent foray into Gottlieb: Alastair Macaulay, "Sex, Violence and Kenneth MacMillan" (Times Literary Supplement, 2003). Macaulay gives us company history, performance reports, and artistic evaluation, including glimpses into the dark side of MacMillan's vision. A very useful and fascinating piece.

(*) Note: I broke up the Goldner selection into shorter paragraphs for easier on-line reading.

#27 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 05 November 2009 - 12:57 PM

Slightly :off topic:

Product warning: it takes a LONG time for a book of 1300-plus pages to dry out after it's been accidentally dunked in water ... even if you manage to snatch it out after only a second or two.

Again, BT is a source of indispensible practical advice. Thanks, bart!

#28 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,267 posts

Posted 20 April 2010 - 03:34 PM

Charlie Rose's website has a 28-minute interview with Gottlieb, the first 18 minutes of which are largely on dance and "Reading Dance."

I grew up in New York and I came of age, if I ever did come of age, at the moment when dance became crucial to this city [. . .] in 1948. [. . .] George Balanchine. So suddenly you're in the presence of Shakespeare. [ . . .]

Rose: "What's the Shakespeare in Balanchine?"

Gottlieb: "It's the vast variety of understanding. He could do everything. You feel that Shakespeare, if he hadn't written King Lear, Twelfth Night and 20 other great masterpieces, he would have written 20 other great masterpieces. [. . .] There was nothing that he [Balanchine like Shakespeare] couldn't turn to and make the best of."



#29 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 20 April 2010 - 04:48 PM

Thanks, kfw. Gottlieb is one of those cultural figures I've always admired. I identified with a couple of his statements.

-- He says that there are people (including his friend Antonia Fraser) who are "dance deaf," though they may love something like opera. And there are others (including himself) who knew the first time they attended a dance performance that it spoke to them directly and in an important way. All of us who follow Ballet Talk are in that second group. We need a catchy label for ourselves. What's the opposite of "dance deaf"?

-- He recognizes that his own love of dance was partly a "function of history" -- the fortuitous experience of growing up in New York City at a time when it just about to become the most creative place for dance and dancers. For Gottlieb this was 1948, when he was 17, the year Balanchine and Kirstein formed NY City Ballet. Gottlieb attended the first City Center seasons. I first started going to City Center a decade later. All of us who were in that place at that time were fortunate indeed.

I also like his emphasis on good writing, which was his first criterion. Thinking about it, this is the special qualitiyof this anthology as compared to many. It does not try to cover everything. Covering a lot of ground may be one of the goals, but only if the writing is good. Gottlieb mentions only two "good" dancer-writers: Allegra Kent ("you can tell after reading the first three sentences") and Serge Lifar (someone he otherwise does not like). I've read Kent's book, but now I'm curious about investigating the two selections from Lifar's memoirs: one about Diaghilev and the other about Goebbels.

#30 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 936 posts

Posted 20 April 2010 - 05:02 PM

What's the opposite of "dance deaf"?


Dance Enthralled

Dance Heavy

Dance Junkie

Dance Crazed

Dance Struck

Dance Moved


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):