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Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet (Hardcover)
A distinguished dance critic offers an enchanting introduction to the art of ballet
As much as we may enjoy Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, for many of us ballet is a foreign language. It communicates through movement, not words, and its history lies almost entirely abroad -- in Russia, Italy, and France. In Celestial Bodies, dance critic Laura Jacobs makes the foreign familiar, providing a lively, poetic, and uniquely accessible introduction to the world of classical dance. Combining history, interviews with dancers, technical definitions, descriptions of performances, and personal stories, Jacobs offers an intimate and passionate guide to watching ballet and understanding the central elements of choreography.
Beautifully written and elegantly illustrated with original drawings, Celestial Bodies is essential reading for all lovers of this magnificent art form.
About the Author
Laura Jacobs is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the dance critic for the New Criterion, where she has been since 1994. Dubbed "our best dance critic" by the editor of Ballet Review, Jacobs has also written about dance for the Atlantic, Chicago Reader, and London Review of Books. She lives in New York City.
"Jacobs's book opens the door, offering a meticulous introduction to the art form and welcoming readers to have a seat and stay a while.... It's from this insider's perspective that Jacobs is able to offer an all-encompassing guided tour behind the curtain, then circling back to the auditorium where the balletomane, the occasional fan and the newcomer sit side by side as they interpret the performance according to their individual experiences and beliefs."
—Misty Copeland, New York Times Book Review
"Our dance critic Laura Jacobs is the best writer on ballet there is. So you can bet that her new book, Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet, will be the best primer on ballet there is."—New Criterion
"Whether you are budding balletomane or a lifelong dancer, Celestial Bodies will inspire you to look more closely at our beloved art form-and fall more deeply in love with it."—Pointe Magazine
"This sparkling, eloquent book will make going to the ballet a richer experience for both the novice and the passionate."
"The author ably explains the technical aspects of ballet, as when she explains that turnout's 'symmetrical torque in the hips engages energy and concentrates it' and in her beautiful description of pas de deux: 'a form of close-up, the theatrical equivalent of the camera's lavish gaze.' 'They're doing choreography,' Danny Kaye sang in White Christmas. As Jacobs demonstrates, however, ballet is so much more."—KirkusReviews
"Laura Jacobs' Celestial Bodies is original, rich in discovery, and conceived in prose that is as agile and graceful as her subject matter."
—Sascha Radetsky, American Ballet Theatre
book about the art of ballet, which takes the form of a higher kind of how-to
book, is itself a work of art. I would call it perfect, but Jacobs spells out
the limits of the ideal of perfection. Better to call it alive, expressive,