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


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#31 kfw

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 12:55 PM

I have read both Kattner-Ulrich's dissertation and Kendall's book and can state that Kattner-Ulrich's work is clear, sober, attributable research which is easy to read and understand.  I would read the dissertation FIRST and then enjoy other speculative works for what they are.   I guess Kendall was not aware of Kattner-Ulrich's dissertation when she wrote Lost Muse??

 

She doesn't list it in her bibliography. 



#32 Stage Right

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 11:59 AM

I also recently finished reading this book. It was indeed a fascinating read. Although I've read many books about this era in Russian Ballet, there was much in this book that was new to me. Also a great deal that was new to me about Balanchine. In fact, this book fills in the gaps for me about how Balanchine became the choreographer that he did. I had no idea just how much choreography he did in Russia before leaving. Perhaps the most fascinating of all for me were the various "avant-garde" influences on Balanchine in Russia, before he even got to Diaghilev. I did not know what an interesting person and choreographer Preobrazhenskaya was ( I knew she was an acclaimed teacher, but not her other talents), nor was I aware of the considerable bohemian and artistic avant-garde in St. Petersburg at that time. The influence of the "NEP" on ballet in Russia was another revelation. And in addition to all that, the story of Lidochka! In that regard, however, I did feel that Kendall was pushing more than a little in trying to make Lidochka such an important, even primary, influence on Balanchine's life. Although I'm sure she was important to him in certain ways, I became less convinced as the book went on that she had the kind of influence Kendall was proposing. I also enjoyed the later section of the book where Kendall points out how, specifically, Balanchine's Russian roots and experiences influenced his choreography in the West. Oh, yes, and the convoluted dynamics of Balanchine's family.....this book is SO rich in so many ways that I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in ballet! And bravos to the author for an exceptional body of research.



#33 DanielBenton

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 12:11 PM

Thanks Stage Right for your comment.  I think Kendall's book should be read together with Kattner-Ulrich's 2008 dissertation, which covers not only the pieces GB did before leaving Russia, but also the works he did after leaving.  Both works have their strengths and together we hopefully get a more complete picture.  Kattner-Ulrich also mentions Ivanova and her demise and makes a surmise about her influence on GB.  Moreover, Kattner-Ulrich systematically discusses the influences on GB of Isadora Duncan, Kasian Goleizovsky, Fyodor Lopukhov and Diaghilev, and traces these influences in his pieces we know about up through Apollon Musagete   



#34 pherank

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 03:31 PM

...Although I'm sure she was important to him in certain ways, I became less convinced as the book went on that she had the kind of influence Kendall was proposing. I also enjoyed the later section of the book where Kendall points out how, specifically, Balanchine's Russian roots and experiences influenced his choreography in the West. Oh, yes, and the convoluted dynamics of Balanchine's family.....this book is SO rich in so many ways that I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in ballet! And bravos to the author for an exceptional body of research.

 

Hi Stage Right - If you read the interview with Kendall mentioned above, I think you will understand better that even Kendall was unsure if the "Lost Muse" notion would work. But she felt that it was worth showing the connections between Ivanova and Balanchine, and letting readers decide for themselves. I tend to agree with you that some of Kendall's assertions go too far, given the evidence, but I appreciated her efforts all the same. It was good of her to celebrate the short life of Lidia Ivanova.

 

In Alexandra Danilova's autobiography, Choura, she recounts a dream that Balanchine told her about:

 

'George told me that not long after Lidia was drowned, he saw her in a dream. "I am so lonely," she said, reaching out to me. "I want Choura." "No, no," he said, and he pulled me back, away from her.

 

We all loved Lidia and were terribly upset at losing her. But it was years before we understood what had gone on; the extent of the tragedy dawned on us only later. In a sense, she was a casualty of the Revolution.'



#35 Stage Right

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:13 PM

 

...Although I'm sure she was important to him in certain ways, I became less convinced as the book went on that she had the kind of influence Kendall was proposing. I also enjoyed the later section of the book where Kendall points out how, specifically, Balanchine's Russian roots and experiences influenced his choreography in the West. Oh, yes, and the convoluted dynamics of Balanchine's family.....this book is SO rich in so many ways that I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in ballet! And bravos to the author for an exceptional body of research.

 

Hi Stage Right - If you read the interview with Kendall mentioned above, I think you will understand better that even Kendall was unsure if the "Lost Muse" notion would work. But she felt that it was worth showing the connections between Ivanova and Balanchine, and letting readers decide for themselves. I tend to agree with you that some of Kendall's assertions go too far, given the evidence, but I appreciated her efforts all the same. It was good of her to celebrate the short life of Lidia Ivanova.

 

I agree pherank. I'm very glad she wrote this book and introduced us to this multi-faceted young woman.  I just thought the lost muse connection was a bit shakier than it seemed, and I'm glad to know that Kendall was uncertain too. But it makes a great 'hook' for the book and readers who might otherwise give it a pass.

 



#36 pherank

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 12:27 AM

I'm not sure that this article has been linked to before: Mindy Aloff in the WSJ on Kendall's book -

 

http://online.wsj.co...637853197244968

 

I can agree with some of Aloff's critique, and disagree with a few points too.



#37 DanielBenton

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Posted 11 February 2014 - 09:47 AM

The Ballet Review issue just received (41.4 - Winter 2013-14, pp.4-6) has a review of Kendall's book byJay Rogoff. He pretty well dissects the strengths and weaknesses of the book and sums it up:
"Kendall displays a touching protectiveness toward Ivanova and Balanchine, whom she familiarly calls
'Lidochka' and 'Georges'. While such intense affection for her subjects leads her into biographical
fiction and skews her insights about his work, her obsessive devotion to both has yielded a major
contribution to our understanding of the Russian nurture and development of Balanchine's genius."


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