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philosophical/aesthetic treatises on the ballet


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#1 keguri

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:10 PM

I was wondering if anyone knew of obscure aesthetic/philosophical treatises on the ballet. I am most interested in works written between the early nineteenth and the mid twentieth century, and which take an unusual aesthetic/philosophical approach. I've looked through the collection "What is Dance?," and there are many interesting essays in it. And I also know of a number of works on dance by post-war French philosophers. But I'm interested above all by writings by somewhat less famous authors that have fallen through the cracks. Examples of what I am looking include the writings by André Levinson, Adrian Stokes, or Cyril Beaumont. I'm not so interested in works of a more purely technical nature, unless these also contain more general aesthetic considerations. This is for a possible future research project of mine.
Thank you!

#2 Cliff

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:45 PM

Ballet's Magic Kingdom by Akim Volynsky is an interesting book and well worth reading.

#3 keguri

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:19 PM

Ballet's Magic Kingdom by Akim Volynsky is an interesting book and well worth reading.


Thank you. I saw a description of it on the internet. Sounds great!

#4 kfw

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 04:05 AM

If 1973 isn't too late and you have access to a good university library, you might look for a copy of the quarterly "Dance Perspectives 55, Autumn 1973." This issue is subtitled "Three Essays in Dance Perspectives." The authors are George Beiswanger (Doing and Viewing Dances: A Perspective for the Practice of Criticism), Wilfried A. Hoffman (Of Beauty and the Dance: Towards an Aesthetics of Ballet), and David Michael Levin (Balanchine's Formalism).

#5 rg

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 05:55 AM

BALLET'S MAGIC KINGDOM presents the whole of Volinsky's Book of Exhaltation, which is excerpted in WHAT IS DANCE? so you can get a sense, in that translation, of Volinksy's kind of writing and thinking.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 07:55 AM

Dance Books recentluy announced a reprint of a book published in London in 1912 about the state of dancing which I'm finding fascinating. It's called "Modern Dance and Dancers" by J.E. Crawford Flitchy, M.A. 1912 is before there was as Modern Dance in the way we use the term today; he was using "modern" as contemporary, and these are the chapter headings:

The Ancient and Modern Attitude Towards the Dance
The Rise of the Ballet
The Heyday of the Ballet
The Decline of the Ballet
The Skirt Dance
The Serptentine Dance
The High Kickers
The Revival of Classical Dancing
The Imperial Russian Ballet
The Repertory of the Russian Ballet
The Russian Dancers
The English Ballet
Oriental and Spanish Dancing
The Revival of the Morris Dance
The Future of the Dance

#7 keguri

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 04:33 PM

If 1973 isn't too late and you have access to a good university library, you might look for a copy of the quarterly "Dance Perspectives 55, Autumn 1973." This issue is subtitled "Three Essays in Dance Perspectives." The authors are George Beiswanger (Doing and Viewing Dances: A Perspective for the Practice of Criticism), Wilfried A. Hoffman (Of Beauty and the Dance: Towards an Aesthetics of Ballet), and David Michael Levin (Balanchine's Formalism).


I think I should be able to find a copy of this: I tried the two largest university libraries in Seoul, but then I remembered that the women's university near where I live has a strong dance program --- and indeed they have it. I think I might have read David Michael Levin's essay on Balanchine in What is Dance?. (I also met him a few times when I was studying at Northwestern) But I haven't heard of Beiswanger or Hoffman. Thank you for the suggestions!

#8 keguri

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 04:36 PM

Dance Books recentluy announced a reprint of a book published in London in 1912 about the state of dancing which I'm finding fascinating. It's called "Modern Dance and Dancers" by J.E. Crawford Flitchy, M.A. 1912 is before there was as Modern Dance in the way we use the term today; he was using "modern" as contemporary, and these are the chapter headings:

The Ancient and Modern Attitude Towards the Dance
The Rise of the Ballet
The Heyday of the Ballet
The Decline of the Ballet
The Skirt Dance
The Serptentine Dance
The High Kickers
The Revival of Classical Dancing
The Imperial Russian Ballet
The Repertory of the Russiani Ballet
The Russiani Dancers
The English Ballet
Oriental and Spanish Dancing
The Revivao of the Morris Dance
The Future of the Dance



Thank you! This looks really great!!

#9 keguri

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 04:37 PM

BALLET'S MAGIC KINGDOM presents the whole of Volinsky's Book of Exhaltation, which is excerpted in WHAT IS DANCE? so you can get a sense, in that translation, of Volinksy's kind of writing and thinking.


Yes. I think I remember it now.

#10 Marcmomus

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:27 PM

Studies in Ballet by William Chappell. John Lehman, London, 1948
He trained under Rambert, de Valois, Nijinska and Sergueef, and partnered Karsavina, Lopokova, Markova, and Fonteyn.
Strong on theory, and opinionated, illustrated by wonderful line drawings by the author.

Chappell, William (b Wolverhampton, 27 Sept. 1908, d Rye, 1 Jan. 1994). British dancer and designer. An enormously versatile talent, he studied ballet with Rambert and art at the Chelsea Art School. A member of Ballet Rambert in its earliest days (1929-34), he also danced with the Vic-Wells Ballet from 1934 to 1940. With the Camargo Society he created roles in de Valois's Job (1931) and Ashton's Façade (1931). At the Vic-Wells Ballet he created roles in de Valois's The Haunted Ballroom (1934), The Rake's Progress (1935), and Checkmate (1937). As a designer he worked for both Rambert and the Vic-Wells Ballet, designing Ashton's Capriol Suite (1930), Les Rendezvous (1933), and Les Patineurs (1937), de Valois's Cephalus and Procris (1931) and Bar aux Folies-Bergère (1934), and Tudor's Lysistrata (1932). He also designed productions of Giselle (1935) and Coppêlia (1940) for Vic-Wells Ballet and in 1936 he designed Boris Romanov's Nutcracker staging for René Blum's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. He published Studies in Ballet in 1948, Fonteyn: Impressions of a Ballerina in 1951, and Edward Burra: A Painter Remembered by his Friends in 1982. From 1951 he worked as a producer of plays and revues. In 1980 he was reunited professionally with Frederick Ashton, designing his Rhapsody for the Royal Ballet. In 1985 he designed Ashton's La Chatte metamorphosée en femme.

The Dance of Life by Havelock Ellis, 1912.
Some intriguing quotations in Chappell from this book, but I don't know how much of it is about dance, and how much about life. Havelock Ellis was the pioneer sexologist, who to his credit, didn't consider homosexuality a disease.

#11 keguri

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 01:20 AM

Studies in Ballet by William Chappell. John Lehman, London, 1948
He trained under Rambert, de Valois, Nijinska and Sergueef, and partnered Karsavina, Lopokova, Markova, and Fonteyn.
Strong on theory, and opinionated, illustrated by wonderful line drawings by the author.

Chappell, William (b Wolverhampton, 27 Sept. 1908, d Rye, 1 Jan. 1994). British dancer and designer. An enormously versatile talent, he studied ballet with Rambert and art at the Chelsea Art School. A member of Ballet Rambert in its earliest days (1929-34), he also danced with the Vic-Wells Ballet from 1934 to 1940. With the Camargo Society he created roles in de Valois's Job (1931) and Ashton's Façade (1931). At the Vic-Wells Ballet he created roles in de Valois's The Haunted Ballroom (1934), The Rake's Progress (1935), and Checkmate (1937). As a designer he worked for both Rambert and the Vic-Wells Ballet, designing Ashton's Capriol Suite (1930), Les Rendezvous (1933), and Les Patineurs (1937), de Valois's Cephalus and Procris (1931) and Bar aux Folies-Bergère (1934), and Tudor's Lysistrata (1932). He also designed productions of Giselle (1935) and Coppêlia (1940) for Vic-Wells Ballet and in 1936 he designed Boris Romanov's Nutcracker staging for René Blum's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. He published Studies in Ballet in 1948, Fonteyn: Impressions of a Ballerina in 1951, and Edward Burra: A Painter Remembered by his Friends in 1982. From 1951 he worked as a producer of plays and revues. In 1980 he was reunited professionally with Frederick Ashton, designing his Rhapsody for the Royal Ballet. In 1985 he designed Ashton's La Chatte metamorphosée en femme.

The Dance of Life by Havelock Ellis, 1912.
Some intriguing quotations in Chappell from this book, but I don't know how much of it is about dance, and how much about life. Havelock Ellis was the pioneer sexologist, who to his credit, didn't consider homosexuality a disease.



Thank you for these great references. I found a preview of Chappell's book on Google books, and it looks very interesting.


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