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Library News

30 June 2015

New Acquisitions
Sarah Jardine-Willoughby introduces some newcomers to the shelves

Never Far from Dancing:
Ballet Artists in New Roles  

By Barbara Newman

London and New York:
Routledge 2014

This is a collection of interviews Barbara Newman conducted with various dancers who have retired from dancing but are still involved in the world of dance, reflecting on their performing and subsequent careers. The book is arranged chronologically by the birth of the interviewees, and includes a wide range of dancers. Some of the interviewees look back at how their current role was done in the past. For example one of the subjects was Monica Mason and she looks back upon her career as a dancer and the various directors of The Royal Ballet. She reflects on how she felt when she took over the post. Similarly Donald MacLeary talks about the ballet masters when he danced and then about his role as ballet master for The Royal Ballet. He also talks about dancers’ behavior. There are reflections on how dancers’ lives have developed. This is a very accessible book and easy to read. 


The Original Nutcracker Ballet – A Hidden Allegory

By Margaret Fleming-Markarian

Privately printed, 2012

This book examines in detail the original scenario by Marius Petipa, and looks at its meaning. The Nutcracker is a ballet I thought I knew well from an early age. However, after reading this book I realise I had only a superficial knowledge of the ballet. I did not know that it was set during the Napoleonic era. The illustrations in the book include some of the original costume designs. In the original, the Nutcracker wears a, “small badly-made mountain dweller’s cap”, which the author notes is red in the costume
designs, similar to French revolutionaries’ caps.  

Petipa’s directions were very detailed. The scenario was based on Alexandre Dumas’ translation and adapted version, Histoire d’un Casse-Noisette, from 1845 of E T A Hoffmann’s Nussknacker und Mausekonig, published in 1816. The choreography is attributed to Lev Ivanov. Margaret Fleming-Markarian looks at each scene in detail and contextualizes various elements. She compares the Stepanov notation brought by Sergeev to Sadler’s Wells with the later Benesh notation. The book has detailed references and a bibliography to explore the
subject further.

This is an interesting and thought provoking book, whether you agree with the conclusions about the symbolism and meaning or not. This complements the other books in the library about The Nutcracker, which focus mainly
on the story. 

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