This collection of essays, articles and interviews, accompanied by a DVD, is enlightening, entertaining and scholarly. Robert Helpmann joined the Vic Wells Ballet in 1933, and was a major influence in the development of ballet in England, but despite being the subject of three biographies (by Elizabeth Salter, Anna Bemrose, and Kathrine Sorley Walker), by the early years of this century his fame was fading and his choreographic work Miracle in the Gorbals (1944) was almost lost.

The story of this ballet’s miraculous recovery threads through the book, and draws together memories, commentary, film footage and analysis. (more…)

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Dance is hardly a new subject to be discussed in philosophy. From Plato’s Laws, through John Locke’s Some Thoughts concerning Education, through Hegel’s Aesthetics and Nietzsche’s manifold dance writings, to more contemporary philosophers such as Alain Badiou and Jacques Derrida, dance has been long discussed by the most known names in our Western philosophical canon. At the same time, within philosophy departments and courses, dance is far from being treated as a main stream research topic. However, publication of monographs and collections, such as the one discussed below, hopefully will aid in resolving this unexplainable tension.

The collection of essays is divided into four parts. Dancers and people dancing, dance works and their performances, dance expression and representation, dance and philosophy/ dance as philosophy. The contributors, too, are varied, from Jonathan Owen Clark and Henrietta Bannerman, to Efrosini Protopapa (London based choreographer). Indeed, the different specialties of the authors increase the strength of the book, illuminating the diversity dance has as a subject. (more…)

Serge Oukrainsky’s gossipy and sometimes catty memoire is very personal account, told largely from memory, of the ballet world in the early 20th century.  After a difficult childhood spent shuttling between Russia and France on his father’s whim, a pawn between estranged parents, aged 15 he embarked on a career as a painter.  He was over 25 when a chance remark at a dinner gave him the opportunity to take ballet classes with Ivan Clustine, initially with a view to partnering Nathalie Trouhanowa in some performances at the Chatelet Theatre.  In 1913 he joined Pavlova’s company, also meeting his long-term companion Andreas Pavley, and the book tells the story of his travels, including a narrow escape from Paris in 1914.

Anna Pavlova is barely mentioned before chapter 10.  At first, her performance failed to impress Oukrainsky (partly on account of her costumes), with the exception of Papillion [sic]:  “she appeared to me incomparable.  She was indeed a true butterfly … “.  (more…)