Gautier on Dance (Hardcover)
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One of the primary sources of knowledge of the flowering of French Romantic ballet is the long series of descriptive reviews which Th ophile Gautier wrote for the daily press. These cover a whole era of ballet, beginning with notices of those arch-rivals, Marie Taglioni and Fanny Elssler, representa-tives of the two aspects of romanticism in dance, in the 1830s, and closing with two of the early performances of Copp lia, separ-ated by the trauma of the Franco-Prussian War, the Siege of Paris and the Commune. Gautier was much more than an observer earning his daily bread as a journalist. He was a poet, one of France's finest, and a poet blessed with a painter's eye and able to cap-ture the magic of a moment in a telling phrase. He wrote, too, from a foundation of practical experience, writing many ballet scenarios, six of which (Giselle among them) reached the stage, and had a sensitive understanding of the dancer's life and art, gained through his life-long friendship with the ballerina Carlotta Grisi. His reviews have often been quoted, but not until now has a compilation covering the entire period of his activity been published, even in the original French. Taken as a whole, in this translation by the noted dance scholar Ivor Guest, they present a view of French ballet at its most brilliant period, seen through the eyes of surely the most qualified and entertaining guide one could wish for.