By Martha Ullman West
According to Jennifer Homans, whose Apollo’s Angels the New York Times Book Review has anointed one of the 10 best books of 2010, ballet is dead, not only because Balanchine is dead, but also because the courts of Louis XIV, XV and XVI are long gone.
That conclusion is based on my reading of the first few chapters and the last two, all I’ve gotten through so far, though I hasten to add that despite the over-use of “indeed” and a rather girlish use of italics when she wants to emphasize a point, Homans’ book (she has a Ph.D. in modern European history from New York University) is a very well-written history of ballet. Based on what I’ve seen in the last six weeks in our neck of the woods, though, when it comes to the death of ballet you could have fooled me.
Item: Early in January I had a peek at an Oregon Ballet Theatre School rehearsal of Coppelia, Kent Stowell’s version, which the students will perform in their annual concert on April 29th and 30th. Stowell the Elder and Francia Russell were staging it, with just as much energy as the littlest kids in rehearsal, working together as a team as they’ve been doing for decades.