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Balanchine Variations reviewed by Marcia Siegel

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The review is now available online, as posted in yesterday's Links as well.


An excerpt:

She asks questions, sees mysteries, speculates about things that don’t reveal themselves on the surface in the strange, semi-narrative La Sonnambula. She explores Balanchine’s brand of Americana in Western Symphony, then decides that attitudes and gestures, like the cowboys doffing their hats, aren’t what really define the choreographer’s Americanism. Instead, Concerto Barocco, The Four Temperaments, and the Stravinsky ballets are better indicators of his affinity for jazz, “the one uniquely American thing to which Balanchine was drawn.”

In a casual remark long ago, Nancy Goldner taught me a profound lesson. “Ballet is about steps after all,” she said, as if any numbskull would know that. Of course, most of the world still doesn’t, and the audience gets very little exposure to this resource from today’s trendy repertory. To Goldner, Balanchine’s games with footwork supply enduring pleasure.

I have another 100 pages to go to finish Collapse, and this book has moved its way to the head of the line as the next book to read.

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[T]his book has moved its way to the head of the line as the next book to read.
This book has such a density of insight and richness of description and analysis that I found it difficult to read squentially from beginning to end. It was more fun to skip around from one ballet to another, conjuring up memories and turning, whenever possible, to the video player for confirmation.

Thanks, maxboswell, for the calling our attention to the review, and Helene for posting the link. The Goldner essays do indeed

[ ... ] constitute a lesson in how many ways there are to write about ballet. None of the chapters adopts a “critique†or review format, yet almost every ballet summons a different treatment, suggests a different focus. This demonstrates the versatility of Balanchine, but also the ingenuity of Goldner.
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