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Dance Writings / Edition 2

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Overview

Edwin Denby was the most important and influential American dance critic of the 20th century. His reviews and essays--which he began writing in the late 1930s and continued to write for almost thirty years--were possessed of a voice, vision, and passion as compelling and inspiring as his subject. As dance critic, first for Modern Music and then for the New York Herald Tribune, and as a contributor to numerous magazines and journals (Ballet, Dance Magazine, Mademoiselle, and Evergreen Review among them), Denby permanently changed the way we think and talk about dance.

This volume presents his reviews from Modern Music and the Tribune in chronological order, providing not only a picture of how Denby’s dance theories and reviewing methods evolved, but also an informal history of the dance in New York from 1936 through 1945. Some of the reviews glimpse the vanished dancers and dances that were most particularly of their time. In others, Denby returns again and again to the four artists he considered exemplary: Alicia Markova, Alexandra Danilova, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. It was Balanchine on whom Denby focused after he left the Tribune, and all of his post-Tribune writings on Balanchine and the New York City Ballet are presented here in one section, providing a history of the early artistic development of the company and of Balanchine himself, while also showing Denby’s most eloquent and deeply felt writing.

Finally there are his post-1945 reviews, essays, and lectures on such general dance subjects as the phenomenon of a truly good leap, classicism in ballet, and dance criticism itself. Here as elsewhere in the collection, the simple elegance of his writing, its evocative power, and its extraordinary timelessness make it an essential part of our dance literature.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For more than 30 years the most distinguished American dance critic of his time, Denby (19031983) wrote for Modern Music, the New York Herald Tribune, Ballet, Dance Magazine and other periodicals. In this mammoth volume, Cornfield and Mackay have brought together revised versions of many of the pieces collected in two previous volumes, plus others not hitherto published in book form, and rearranged them chronologically and topically. Courtly, unassertive but precise, concerned, concise and sometimes severe in his criticism, Denby was convinced that dance was not only a social and physical activity but also a joyous, moral one that ``affirmed the beauty of the human spirit.'' His exemplary artists were Alicia Markova, Alexandra Danilova, Martha Graham and George Balanchine, but he also wrote with care and generosity about dancers as varied as Nijinsky, Pearl Primus, Merce Cunningham and Sonja Henie. Cornfield's introduction is both appreciative and discerning; Mackay's biography sensitively describes a poet, dancer, novelist, translator and critic of high standards who was widely liked and admired. Essential for serious balletomanes. Photos not seen by PW.(January 8)
Library Journal
Dance Writings is dance criticism at its very best. For 30 years Denbywho died in 1983reviewed and analyzed dance, first for a small journal, Modern Music, then for the New York Herald Tribune and a number of magazines. He was above all an advocate for the art and a man with high artistic standards. His criticism is a rare blend: constructively critical and never petty or cruel, and instructive to dancers, viewers, and choreographers. His eye was keen and no detail went unnoticed. His prose is elegant and his opinions were clearly stated. This collection comprises a mini-history of dance in the United States from 1936 to 1965. Since other of Denby's writings are out of print, this is a highly desirable purchase for most libraries. Joan Stahl, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813030579
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Edwin Denby (1903-1983) was the author of Looking at the Dance and Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Streets, Collected Poetry, and three librettos for American composer Aaron Copland.

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