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Looking for essay


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#1 puppytreats

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:32 AM

Can anyone recommend any book or essay discussing beauty, photography, and ballet dancers? I am not looking simply for a book of beautiful pictures of dancers.

#2 kfw

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:56 AM

puppytreats, you might try Jonathan Weinberg's "Substitute and Consolation: The Ballet Photographs of George Platt Lynes" in the book "Dance for a City: Fifty Years of the New York City Ballet," edited by Lyn Garafola and Eric Foner. I don't know if Amazon has it, but as you may know, purchases made through the Amazon link at the top of Ballet Alert pages help keep this site afloat.

#3 sandik

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 06:43 PM

It is not specifically about ballet (or exclusively about dance, either), but Susan Sontag's "On Photography" is an excellent discussion about how photographs do and don't reflect the world they portray.

#4 Quiggin

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 01:28 PM

I second sandik's choice of Susan Sontag's "On Photography."

Sontag says that photography no longer lets the viewer see the world in terms of continuity and connectedness but substitutes a slightly alienating sense of “fascination” instead. Real experience deferred (my take).

And if, as Mallarmé (or Valéry) has said, the essence of ballet is interiority – not the representation of interiority, but pure interiority itself – then photography of ballet is problematic.

The dance photographs which most fascinate me the most are ones by Henri Cartier-Bresson done in the Soviet Union in the fifties; Walker’s Evans’ very flat, matter-of-fact photos of Danilova and Markova taken for Fortune for Lincoln Kirstein; and Alexei Brodovitch’s somewhat one-note photos of dancers rushing like birds from place to place in a blur.

Also, Kertesz’s Satiric Dancer.

They fail, but ask interesting questions about dance and photography and do yield some nice oblique takes on ballet. And skip the beauty part.

#5 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 03:44 PM

puppytreats, you might try Jonathan Weinberg's "Substitute and Consolation: The Ballet Photographs of George Platt Lynes" in the book "Dance for a City: Fifty Years of the New York City Ballet," edited by Lyn Garafola and Eric Foner. I don't know if Amazon has it, but as you may know, purchases made through the Amazon link at the top of Ballet Alert pages help keep this site afloat.



It is available at the NYCB Gift Bar, and perhaps online.

#6 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 03:54 PM

In the book, "Dance and Photography," by William A. Ewing, Henry Holt and Co., 1987, (Published in England as "The Fugitive Gesture") the Forward and Introduction are essays on that very subject. I cannot vouch for the essays (very historical) because all I do is look at the photos. By the way, there are NONE by Martha Swope, Fred Fehl, or Paul Kolnik! Serious omissions.

#7 kfw

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 06:08 PM

I'm a little surprised that neither Kirstein nor Denby wrote about dance photography, Kirstein especially because he wrote about Cartier-Bresson and supported and wrote about Evans. Speaking of Martha Swope, she was interviewed in Ballet Review awhile back, but talked about working with NYCB, not her work itself.



#8 Quiggin

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 11:04 PM

Degas's work may be a good starting point since he borrowed so much from photography – wide frames, seemingly arbitrary placements of bodies, truncated figures and objects, abrupt entrances and exits of dancers. Only Cartier-Bresson and the Magnum group took advantage of Degas's discoveries, stealing back what he had taken from photography long before – although their work seems a little less radical.

Aaron Scharf has an essay that might be helpful called "Painting, Photography and the Image of Movement," originally in Burlington Magazine of May 1962 but probably anthologized elsewhere. Touches on Muybridge, Etienne Jules Marey and Degas.

Mari Kálmán Meller has a very thorough discussion of Degas's use of space and placement of bodies to suggest the rhythm of ballet and its enfoldment in time. "Exercises in and around Degas’s Classrooms" Part II April 1990 Burlington Magazine (available through Jstor).

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 10:59 PM

Actually, Denby DID write about dance photographs at least once-- there is a fine short essay about photographs of Nijinsky; he treats them as evidence, rather than as an art in itself, and htere's little delving into ways they might mis-represent. I don't think he was niave -- I don't think he was interested. it's a great essay....




I'm a little surprised that neither Kirstein nor Denby wrote about dance photography, Kirstein especially because he wrote about Cartier-Bresson and supported and wrote about Evans. Speaking of Martha Swope, she was interviewed in Ballet Review awhile back, but talked about working with NYCB, not her work itself.



#10 kfw

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 03:47 AM

Actually, Denby DID write about dance photographs at least once-- there is a fine short essay about photographs of Nijinsky; he treats them as evidence, rather than as an art in itself, and htere's little delving into ways they might mis-represent. I don't think he was niave -- I don't think he was interested. it's a great essay....


Aha! Thanks, Paul.




#11 Marcmomus

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:30 PM

The Royal Academy of Arts in London have an exhibition about Degas and Ballet from Sept 17 to December 11, 2011.

http://www.royalacad...ibitions/degas/ has the following:

"In the autumn of 2011 the Royal Academy of Arts will stage a landmark exhibition focusing on Edgar Degasís preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement will trace the development of the artist's ballet imagery throughout his career, from the documentary mode of the early 1870s to the sensuous expressiveness of his final years.
The exhibition will be the first to present Degasís progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and early film; indeed, the artist was keenly aware of these technological developments and often directly involved with them."

Perhaps there will be an associated publication.


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