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Ballet's Magic Kingdom

Ballet's Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925

Akim Volynsky
Translated, Edited, and with an Introduction and Notes by Stanley J. Rabinowitz
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Ballet's Magic Kingdom
    Book Description:

    Akim Volynsky was a Russian literary critic, journalist, and art historian who became Saint Petersburg's liveliest and most prolific ballet critic in the early part of the twentieth century. This book, the first English edition of his provocative and influential writings, provides a striking look at life inside the world of Russian ballet at a crucial era in its history.

    Stanley J. Rabinowitz selects and translates forty of Volynsky's articles-vivid, eyewitness accounts that sparkle with details about the careers and personalities of such dance luminaries as Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina, and George Balanchine, at that time a young dancer in the Maryinsky company whose keen musical sense and creative interpretive power Volynsky was one of the first to recognize. Rabinowitz also translates Volynsky's magnum opus,The Book of Exaltations,an elaborate meditation on classical dance technique that is at once a primer and an ideological treatise. Throughout his writings, Rabinowitz argues in his critical introduction, which sets Volynsky's life and work against the backdrop of the principal intellectual currents of his time, Volynsky emphasizes the spiritual and ethereal qualities of ballet.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14249-5
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. A Note on the Text
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Akim Volynsky and His Writings on Dance
    (pp. xvii-xliv)

    Dance was the last form of artistic expression to engage Akim Volynsky (1861– 1926), perhaps Russia’s most erudite and influential humanist scholar and critic of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. For forty years he devoted himself to the propagation of culture with an all-consuming passion that verged on the fanatical, and ballet was the last arena in which he fought his never-ending battle for an elevated aesthetic consciousness. By the time he made his debut in 1911 as a dance journalist for the widely circulated Petersburg dailyBirzhevye vedomosti(The Stock Exchange News), to which he contributed regularly...

  6. 1 Reviews and Articles
    (pp. 1-128)

    The ballet season has begun withSwan Lake,in which the young ballerina Tamara Karsavina performed twice. The public is clearly interested in ballet, and among various segments of the Petersburg population word is spreading about the talented artists who are appearing on the ballet stage. For anyone following the fate of the European theater, this phenomenon is cause for enormous joy. It shows that a society exhausted by the prosaics of ordinary words and gestures has instinctively begun to search for an answer to several new conceptual interests in the design of balletic dance. So-called classical dancing, with its...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. 2 The Book of Exaltations: The ABCs of Classical Dance (1925)
    (pp. 129-262)

    What is choreography? The word consists of two Greek words, one of which means “chorus” (khor), and the other of which comes from the word “to write.” The Greeks labeledchorusany gathering of people who brawled, rejoiced, played, or traded at a bazaar, and even those who converged for some sad occasion or another. In ancient Sparta the bazaar square was called a chorus. The Greeks even said “a chorus of teeth”—and this expression is all the more remarkable since in an open mouth the teeth sparkle and take an active role in the expression of the face....

  9. Glossary of Names
    (pp. 263-272)
  10. Index
    (pp. 273-288)