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Lecture & Discussion: "Why Ballet Matters"

Release date: July 08, 2011

November 4, 7pm. Hyman Forum, Athenaeum

"It has never been done, what Jennifer Homans has done in "Apollo's Angels." She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet, this most refined, most exquisite art of "aristocratic etiquette" this "science of behavior towards others," as a 17th-century ballet master put it, in which lovely young women perch upon their 10 little toe tips and waft about where the air is thinner - but heaven is closer." Toni Bentley, NY Times

Jennifer Homans' Apollo's Angels is a beautifully written and deeply felt history of ballet, told with an epic sweep and a sensitive, almost physical feel for detail. It is consistently engrossing, and strikes a graceful balance between exploring the nuances of steps and surveying the larger landscape of art, ideas and politics, from ballet's beginnings in the Renaissance courts of Europe to it's globalized present. Apollo's Angels traces four centuries of ballet - from its origins in the 16th-century France to its elevation in the court of Versailles, through the Renaissance, Bolshevism, modernism, and the cold war - describing the dance's evolutions and revolutions in the context of political, philosophical and aesthetic currents. Ms. Homans' lecture will draw upon the aesthetic, formal, and sensual dimensions, as well as the social, cultural and political dimensions of ballet. She will take the world where wilis, virgins, sylphs, sleeping princesses, the "women in white" embody the enternal - the eternally unattainable - and set it into the fabric of world history, therefore allowing her audience to see, miraculously, their pale tulle and satin pointe shoes peeking out from the crevices of war, of revolutions, of political machinations, and on the stages of the monarchies and empires of the kings and czars who gave birth to the impossible art of ballet. She will communicate how the history of ballet is also a story of class and will reference her work to a variety of subjects in an uncanny manner, questioning why ballet matters, making her a perfect fit for Goucher.

"Ballet's Past and Why it Matters" is a lecture and discussion intended for the entire Goucher community, the Baltimore community, and the greater Baltimore university system. This lecture will also include a brief question and answer session and book signing, time permitting.

Hyman Forum, Athenaeum