Posted 03 August 2010 - 07:22 AM
This is a new, fairly obscure (no listing in Amazon, and only about 10 libraries listed as having it) book called Alexander Shiryaev : master of movement, which includes a translation of Shiryaev's autobiography. He was a famous character dancer (he actually was the choreographer of the hoop dance that New Yorkers see in Balanchine's Nutcracker), who was also facinated by the possibilities of film. He tried to get the Maryinsky to agree to letting him photograph dancers in the early 1900's, but the authorities thought that the postcards were enough, but he did some filming on his own. These films were only recently discovered, and there is a facinating documentary, which this book talks about. His autobiography only mentions the films in passing, but has a lot of information about the Petipa period and especially the development of character dancing (Shiryaev was, according to this, the first person to systematically develop character classes), and he taught from the early 1900's through the Soviet period.) Shiryaev was the grandson of Pugni, and his mother was in the Maryinsky corps, so he basically grew up in the theater, and his observations on the Italian influence on the older French school, with the arrival of Cecchetti (Shiryaev was in awe of his dancing, but didn't think much of him as a mime) and the Italian ballerinas was very interesting.) There are wonderful pictures, too.