Dance Writings and Poetry

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Edwin Denby, who died in 1983, was the most important and influential American dance critic of this century. His reviews and essays, which he wrote for almost thirty years, were possessed of a voice, vision, and passion as compelling and inspiring as his subject. He was also a poet of distinction-a friend to Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, and John Ashbery. This book presents a sampling of his reviews, essays, and poems, an exemplary collection that exhibits the elegance, lucidity, and timelessness of Denby's writings.

The volume includes Denby's reactions to choreography ranging from Martha Graham to George Balanchine to the Rockettes, as well as his reflections on such general topics as dance in film, dance criticism, and meaning in dance.Denb&ygrave;s writings are presented chronologically, and they not only provide a picture of how his dance theories and reviewing methods evolved but also give an informal history of dance in New York from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. The book-the only collection of Denby's writings currently in print-is an essential resource for students and lovers of dance.

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Editorial Reviews

Denby's writings. . .sprang from [his] profoundly emotional response to seeing people dance. . . .the urgency of his reviews is a result of his own passionate will to understand and appreciate what he has seen. . . .for anyone who has not yet read Denby, this book is a godsend.
New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
Denby (1903-83), a major dance critic as well as a poet, wrote for Modern Music (1936-42), the New York Herald Tribune (1942-45), and many dance magazines. In his writings, he passionately reflected on the art form, observing the emergence and development of many seminal figures, including George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Leonide Massine, and Frederick Ashton. When read chronologically, his observations on specific performances, dance criticism, and the meaning of dance amount to the creation of a dance aesthetic that he shared with readers for more than 30 years. His literary talents also found an outlet in the writing of librettos and poetry. Although Denby's writings have been compiled before, most notably in Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Street (1965), this volume is the only one currently in print. Denby's significant voice should be added to all collections in which he is not already represented.--Joan Stahl, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Denby's writings. . .sprang from [his] profoundly emotional response to seeing people dance. . . .the urgency of his reviews is a result of his own passionate will to understand and appreciate what he has seen. . . .for anyone who has not yet read Denby, this book is a godsend. -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300069853
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 338
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Biographical Note
The Thirties: An Essay 1
The Climate 9
The Subway 9
City Without Smoke 10
Summer 11
The Silence at Night 11
First Warm Days 12
Meeting in the Postoffice 12
The Poison 13
Irish American Song 13
A Postcard 14
Mid-Day Crowd 14
Venice 16
Rome 16
Villa Adriana 17
Olevano Romano 17
Naples 18
Sant'Angelo d'Ischia 19
Syracuse 19
Delos 20
Ciampino ä Envoi 20
Out of the Bronx subway June forest 21
Neighbor sneaks refuse to my roof 21
Born in my loft, dancer untame 22
Writing poems, an employee 22
Alex Katz points his north window 23
The size balls are saddens Lamarck 23
The grand republic's poet is 24
Cold pink glowing above wakes me 24
Inattentively fortunate 25
Disorder, mental, strikes me; I 25
Nocturnal void lower Fifth, I 26
The meadow rolls slanting like the 26
A fall night, September, black, cold 26
New York dark in August, seaward 27
In a hotelroom a madman 27
At first sight, not Pollock, Kline scared 28
Old age, lookit, it's stupid, a big fart 28
Nijinska's Noces (1936) 33
Nijinsky's Faun; Massine's Symphonie Fantastique; American Ballet Caravan (1936) 34
Graham's Chronicle; Uday Shankar (1937) 37
Balanchine's American Ballet (1937) 40
Balanchine's Apollon; American Ballet Caravan (1938) 42
Massine and the New Monte Carlo (1938) 45
Ashton's Devil's Holiday (1939) 48
Balanchine and Stravinsky: Poker Game and Baiser; The Monte Carlo Season (1940) 50
Graham's El Penitente and Letter to the World; Balanchine's Balustrade (1941) 53
Kurt Jooss; The Monte Carlo Ballet (1941) 57
Ballet Theatre (1942) 60
Isadora Reconsidered; Graham's Punch and the Judy Revisited (1942) 62
Tudor's Dark Elegies; Swan Lake (1942) 65
Massine's Aleko (1942) 66
Balanchine and Tchaikovsky: Ballet Imperial (1943) 66
Notes on Nijinsky Photographs (1943) 70
Markova's Dance Rhythm; Tudor's Romeo and Juliet (1943) 76
Massine's Capriccio Espagnol; De Mille's Three Virgins; Giselle (1943) 79
Tudor and Pantomime (1943) 81
On Meaning in Dance (1943) 83
Ballet Technique (1943) 85
The Dance in Film (1943) 86
Flight of the Dancer (1943) 89
About Toe Dancing (1943) 93
How to Judge a Dancer (1943) 95
Tudor's Lilac Garden; Lichine's Helen of Troy (1943) 97
Argentinita's Pictures of Goya; Tudor's Judgment of Paris (1943) 99
The de Mille "Touch" (1943) 99
Billy the Kid and Its Dance Faults (1943) 101
Some Faults of Ballet Theatre (1943) 103
Anna Sokolow (1943) 106
Graham's Deaths and Entrances and Salem Shore (1943) 107
Deaths and Entrances Revisited (1944) 109
The Rockettes and Rhythm (1944) 111
Humphrey's Inquest (1944) 112
A Note on Dance Intelligence (1944) 114
A Forum on Dance Criticism (1944) 115
Merce Cunningham (1944) 117
Serenade (1944) 118
A Monte Carlo Matinee (1944) 119
Fancy Free (1944) 119
Pearl Primus (1944) 120
Dark Elegies (1944) 121
A Tribute to Youskevitch (1944) 122
Markova's Giselle: Ballet Theatre's Glory (1944) 123
Where Are the New Serious Ballets? (1944) 124
Graham's American Document and Primitive Mysteries (1944) 125
A Ballet Lover's View of Martha Graham (1944) 126
Balanchine's Danses Concertantes (1944) 128
Coppelia Tells the Facts of Life (1944) 130
Pearl Primus on Broadway (1944) 131
Ballerina Trouble at Ballet Theatre? (1944) 132
Riabouchinska and Toumanova (1944) 134
Toumanova in Giselle (1944) 135
Toumanova's Show (1944) 136
A Fault in Ballet Theatre's Dancing (1944) 137
Toumanova and Dolin at Ballet Theatre (1944) 139
Ballet International at Two Weeks (1944) 140
About Ballet Decoration (1944) 141
Meaning in The Nutcracker (1944) 143
Deaths and Entrances (1945) 146
Ballet Imperial (1945) 147
Balanchine's Mozartiana (1945) 148
Coppelia: Ballet's Masterpiece of Comedy (1945) 150
Balanchine's Pas de Deux (1945) 151
Balanchine: Ballet Magician (1945) 152
Massine's Moonlight Sonata (1945) 154
Markova at Ballet Theatre (1945) 155
Tudor's Undertow (1945) 156
The Toumanova Problem (1945) 158
Ballet Theatre's Season (1945) 160
Graham's Herodiade (1945) 163
Appalachian Spring and Herodiade a Second Time (1945) 165
Concerto Barocco (1945) 166
To Argentinita (1945) 168
Apollo: The Power of Poetry (1945) 170
Alonso and Eglevsky in Giselle (1945) 171
Apollo (1945) 172
Robbins's Interplay (1945) 175
Markova's Failing (1945) 176
Ballet Theatre in Decline ... and a Farewell (1945) 178
Wigman After the War (ca. 1947) 180
Ashton's Cinderella (1949) 181
Against Meaning in Ballet (1949) 188
Dance Criticism (1949) 192
An Open Letter About the Paris Opera Ballet (1950) 203
A Letter About Ulanova (1951) 209
A Letter About Ulanova and the Royal Danish Ballet (1951) 212
A Letter on New York City's Ballet (1952) 216
Impressions of Markova at the Met (1952) 232
Some Thoughts About Classicism and George Balanchine (1953) 235
Stars of the Russian Ballet: A Film Review (1954) 243
Western Symphony and Ivesiana (1954) 247
Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Streets (1954) 252
Romeo and Juliet: A Film Review (1956) 260
Three Sides of Agon (1959) 264
The Bolshoi at the Met (1959-60) 271
Martha at Sixty-Eight (1961) 276
Balanchine Choreographing (1962) 277
Forms in Motion and in Thought (1965) 288
Dance Magazine Award Acceptance Speech (1966) 306
Bibliography of Denby's Writings 307
Index 309
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