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Balanchine & the Lost Muse: Revolution & the Making of a Chore


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#1 Neryssa

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 02:44 PM

I hope this has not been posted before sweatingbullets.gif :
Balanchine & the Lost Muse: Revolution & the Making of a Choreographer by Elizabeth Kendall is listed on Amazon (Release date: July 2013) Description:
Here is the first dual biography of the early lives of two key figures in Russian ballet: famed choreographer George Balanchine and his close childhood friend and extraordinary ballerina Liidia (Lidochka) Ivanova.

Tracing the lives and friendship of these two dancers from years just before the 1917 Russian Revolution to Balanchine's escape from Russia in 1924, Elizabeth Kendall's Balanchine & the Lost Muse sheds new light on a crucial flash point in the history of ballet. Drawing upon extensive archival research, Kendall weaves a fascinating tale about this decisive period in the life of the man who would become the most influential choreographer in modern ballet. Abandoned by his mother at the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet Academy in 1913 at the age of nine, Balanchine spent his formative years studying dance in Russia's tumultuous capital city. It was there, as he struggled to support himself while studying and performing, that Balanchine met Ivanova. A talented and bold dancer who grew close to the Bolshevik elite in her adolescent years, Ivanova was a source of great inspiration to Balanchine--both during their youth together, and later in his life, after her mysterious death just days before they had planned to leave Russia together in 1924. Kendall shows that although Balanchine would have a great number of muses, many of them lovers, the dark beauty of his dear friend Lidochka would inspire much of his work for years to come.

Part biography and part cultural history, Balanchine & the Lost Muse presents a sweeping account of the heyday of modern ballet and the culture behind the unmoored ideals, futuristic visions, and human decadence that characterized the Russian Revolution.

#2 bart

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

This sounds like something a collector of Balanchiniana can't do without. Here's the AMAZON LINK

Reminder to everyone: Don't forget that you can order directly from Amazon by clicking the box at the bottom of each Ballet Alert page. That way Ballet Alert earns a small share from each sale, which helps us remain on-line. I have just cllicked and put this book it in my Cart. Thanks, Neryssa, for the Heads Up..

#3 sandik

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:13 PM

Kendall does great work, and this should be fascinating.

#4 Quiggin

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:24 PM

The pre-1925 part of Balanchine's life would be a good read, especially with new archival research.

But I don't think Balanchine was "abandoned", maybe that's just the blurb writer. Wasn't he supposed to go to military school but there wasn't a spot that year for him, so when his sister didn't get into St Petersburg Imperial Ballet school, he took her place. Balanchine's account of the boat accident where Liida Ivanova disappeared sounded as if it happened to someone he knew but wasn't that close to – although "Cotillion" is supposed to reflect something of this loss. Maybe all Balanchine's inner life (as is everyone's according to Proust) takes place three steps removed from its original stimulus.

Anyway it be be interesting to see how this all gets put together.

#5 aurora

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:11 AM

She apparently had a Fulbright to work on the project:
http://www.fulbright.ru/en/node/507

#6 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:21 PM

....and don't forget, he was already married to Tamara Geva.

#7 Natalia

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 05:54 AM

Kendall does great work, and this should be fascinating.


You think so? Without further comment: http://www.pointemag...-2012/soul-star

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:29 AM


Kendall does great work, and this should be fascinating.


You think so? Without further comment: http://www.pointemag...-2012/soul-star


"Maybe Somova is that rarity in the ballet world: A well-adjusted, happy young woman who happens to have gorgeous technique..."

Really...? Posted Image

Anyway.....back to B and Ivanova....

#9 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:50 AM

"Maybe Somova is that rarity in the ballet world: A well-adjusted, happy young woman who happens to have gorgeous technique..."

Really...? [img]http://balletalert.invisionzone.com//public/style_emoticons/default/speechless-smiley-003.

She quotes Terekhova and Kolpakova, who did exemplify the Kirov style and has no skin in the game, to support this.

#10 sandik

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:16 AM


Kendall does great work, and this should be fascinating.


You think so? Without further comment: http://www.pointemag...-2012/soul-star


Kendall's scholarly work has been varied and thoughtful, especially when she's examining dance in the first part of the 20th century. I haven't seen anything specific from this project yet, but she's got the skills and the access to materials -- I'm looking forward to seeing what she's done.

#11 pherank

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 06:35 PM

NY Times article on the book is here:

http://www.nytimes.c...th-kendall.html

 

Has anyone read the book yet? I believe it has been out for a month or two.



#12 kfw

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:04 PM

NY Times article on the book is here:

http://www.nytimes.c...th-kendall.html

 

Has anyone read the book yet? I believe it has been out for a month or two.

 

I bought it at the Diaghilev exhibition in D.C. a month ago and am only two thirds of the way through it because, as with most dance books I read, I'm only reading a few pages of the time, the better to savor it. But from what I've read so far, La Rocca's praise and criticism are right on target. Kendall frequently makes way too much of little evidence. She forces theories. On the other hand, her evident love for the material, and her deep research, make the book a joy to read. 



#13 pherank

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:25 PM

 

NY Times article on the book is here:

http://www.nytimes.c...th-kendall.html

 

Has anyone read the book yet? I believe it has been out for a month or two.

 

I bought it at the Diaghilev exhibition in D.C. a month ago and am only two thirds of the way through it because, as with most dance books I read, I'm only reading a few pages of the time, the better to savor it. But from what I've read so far, La Rocca's praise and criticism are right on target. Kendall frequently makes way too much of little evidence. She forces theories. On the other hand, her evident love for the material, and her deep research, make the book a joy to read. 

 

Thanks KFW - good to know. It was obviously of great importance that Kendall find more (and actual) evidence to support her assertions. But I think we all realize how hard that must be, as so much was destroyed in those years. It IS interesting how many Mariinsky members seem to have found Ivanova's death suspicious. There had to be enough implausibilities to the official report to make people have doubts.

 

I have another subject for her to tackle: Tamara Toumanova (and Mama). That could be a great book. Alas, we have nothing to read (and let me know if I'm wrong about that).



#14 carbro

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:46 PM

Here Leonard Lopate's fascinating interview with Kendall on WNYC radio.  So much I didn't know!

 

http://www.wnyc.org/...and-revolution/



#15 pherank

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 02:33 PM

I've finished the book, yeah!

 

I'll admit to taking vicarious 'pleasure' in reading about life in Russia of the 1920s - I'm both fascinated and horrified: there is so much to be learned from those events, and those people, but the available records are few, aside from remembrances of the survivors, most of which are bitter and mournful.

Overall, this is an excellent piece of research, and there's little doubt it was an arduous task to cobble together useful and believable information, and weed out the hearsay. I do think that this book should be regarded as an important source of information for English language readers. I'm wondering if there is, or will be, a Russian language version of this book (and what Russian readers think about this work).

A couple of oddities I would like to mention:

Kendall has a tendency to question people's statements without giving the reader an adequate sense for why that person's statements are unreliable. We need to see evidence; otherwise, the author comes off badly. As an example:

"Geva wrote later that Georges's father and brother traveled from Georgia for the wedding, though this seems unlikely given the distance, the ruined railways, and the Georgian Balanchivadzes’ poverty. And where were Georges’s mother and his friends in a school chapel wedding? No one has left an account of it except the bride. Georges’s friends heard about it only afterwards; they’d barely known about Geva.

But for Georges, who did not advertise psychic events, this mariage was an ultraprivate affair, and in private terms a masterstroke."

So we should assume that Geva needed to lie about her wedding details? Sorry, why precisely? (Or is that being saved for Kendall's next book?). Why state that the marriage was "ultraprivate", but then question why there were few witnesses?

We get no clue as to why Geva's comments on the wedding aren't reliable until in the final portion of the book, Kendall adds, "This account comes mainly from Geva's memoir, Split Seconds, which contains so many questionable details and blurred contexts that we can’t know if it’s accurate."

But why not make that point from the beginning and display something of the inconsistencies in Geva's text? Otherwise, it's just Kendall's opnion with nothing to back up her claim. One person's word against another's: I can get plenty of that on YouTube.

A stylistic nitpick: Kendall uses contractions throughout her writing, and first names for 'characters', which I find a little odd in a mostly academic-toned work. It comes across to me as a stylistic affection - I'm not seeing how contracting phrases is even necessary in this type of work. The book is not conversational in tone, so why the informal style of written English given the subject matter?

Also, the ending struck me as being a bit abrupt, but I suppose Kendall wanted to leave off without going into matters that are much written about already by others.

I especially liked the section dealing with sexual politics during the post-revolution era. And it was interesting to learn how Balanchine was, for the most part, forced out of dance performance into choreography by the 'powers that be'. Also, the time spent on Lidochka Ivanova's story: her death, and her life, was a worthwhile effort in my opinion. It is worth celebrating a short, but exceptional life.

Take a look at this online dissertation on Balanchine's early life (cover is in German but text is English):
http://www.diss.fu-b..._Balanchine.pdf




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