A bit of dancing, a bit of acting, a bit of fashion, and even a bit of icon deconstruction (the name’s Bond, James Bond…..); all in a day’s work for our new-books shelf!

Apollo’s angels : a history of ballet by Jennifer Homans

Random House, 2010 Random House, 2010

Nothing if not ambitious, this new single volume history of ballet was one of The New York Times’ best books of 2010, and I can see why; just dipping into it is almost impossible, as one story leads to another! The author, Jennifer Homans, was herself a dancer with various American companies, as well as being a respected writer and dance journalist, and this direct experience means (thank goodness) that she’s not afraid to let more than a little personal opinion intrude as she traverses her mighty topic. I love her verdict on Maurice Bejart’s Stimmung, “sex, sweat, and pretense masquerading as art.” Ouch!

The empire actors : stars of Australasian costume drama 1890s-1920s by Veronica Kelly

Currency House, 2009 Currency House, 2009

Veronica Kelly is one of our foremost theatre historians, and this marvellous book turns the spotlight on a period when audiences flocked to see exotic historical stage spectacles, from christians being thrown to the lions in The Sign of the Cross to chivalrous daring-do in The Three Musketeers. Late nineteenth century commercial theatre was behaving globally well before that word was in general usage, and popular plays and performers had much the same cultural effect as popular television has today. For better or worse…..

High style : masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Jan Glier Reeder

Yale University Press, 2010 Yale University Press, 2010

I don’t imagine that I’ll ever be called a “fashionista”, but looking through this lavishly illustrated book I can definitely understand the hold that fashion has on people; just look at the extraordinary gowns by Charles James (that’s one of his on the cover) and the way they blur the line between design and art, clothing and sculpture. Faaaabulous!

James Bond in world and popular culture : the films are not enough: edited by Robert G. Weiner, B. Lynn Whitfield and Jack Becker

 Cambridge Scholars, 2010 Cambridge Scholars, 2010

Those who know me may well see it as somewhat against type,  but I can’t help loving a good (and sometimes very bad) James Bond film; I even like the Roger Moore ones! Amidst the plethora of Bondiana (sic) there have been a number of very interesting critical examinations of the 007 genre in recent years, and this new collection of essays looks at everything from the camp aesthetic of some of the movies to Japanese film ripoffs in the sixties. And how’s this for a chapter heading?: “Use your joystick, 007: video games and the interactive Bond experience”. Read on….


Julius Knight in The Sign of the Cross: PIC LTA 2165 F. 6 Julius Knight in The Sign of the Cross: PIC LTA 2165 F. 6

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