Extended Audio Sample

Download Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Apollos Angels: A History of Ballet, by Jennifer Homans Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (577 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer Homans Narrator: Kirsten Potte Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
Regular Price: $25.99 Download
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Download learn more )

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. A ballerina dancing The Sleeping Beauty today is a link in a long chain of dancers stretching back to sixteenth-century Italy and France. Her graceful movements recall a lost world of courts, kings, and aristocracy, but her steps and gestures are also marked by the dramatic changes in dance and culture that followed. Ballet has been shaped by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism, and the Cold War. Apollo’s Angels is a groundbreaking work—the first cultural history of ballet ever written.

Ballet is unique: It has no written texts or standardized notation. It is a storytelling art passed on from teacher to student. The steps are never just the steps—they are a living, breathing document of a culture and a tradition. And while ballet’s language is shared by dancers everywhere, its artists have developed distinct national styles. French, Italian, Danish, Russian, English, and American traditions each have their own expression, often formed in response to political and societal upheavals.

From ballet’s origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France’s Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. It was in Russia that dance developed into the form most familiar to American audiences: The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker originated at the Imperial court. In the twentieth century, émigré dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance.

Jennifer Homans is a historian and critic who was also a professional dancer. She brings to Apollo’s Angels a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. She traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance in clean, clear prose, drawing listeners into the intricacies of the art with vivid descriptions of dances and the artists who made them. Apollo’s Angels is an authoritative work, written with a grace and elegance befitting its subject.

Download and start listening now!


Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Jeff | 2/20/2014

    " First half jumped around too much. Overall, this book reads 90% like an encyclopedia and 10% like a well-organized overview. I picked this up to appreciate ballet but felt mostly bored by the novel. Unless you are directly interested in understanding ballet's origins from a historical perspective, I'd recommend skipping. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kristina Wolfe | 2/7/2014

    " Very long and dry. It kept my interest but was not very interesting. It did, however, teach me about the history of ballet so it served its purpose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jessica Gwen | 1/28/2014

    " What a gorgeous, inspiring book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gayla Bassham | 1/13/2014

    " Finally! This was a good book, impressively researched, and I'm glad I read it (although I'm not going to deny that there were moment when I wondered whether a detailed analysis of ballet in Italy in the nineteenth century was really the best use of 45 minutes). But I'm glad I'm done, too. "

  • > Show All
Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author

Jennifer Homans is the author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet. She is the founder and director of the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University and the dance critic for The New Republic. She holds a PhD in modern European history from New York University. Before becoming a writer and scholar, Homans was a professional dancer. She is currently working on a biography of George Balanchine.