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Ballet by Cecil Beaton

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New York : Doubleday & Co., 1951. Hardcover. 85 pages ; b/w photographs ; 21 cm. Price clipped dust jacket. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!


BALLET by Cecil Beaton

CECIL BEATON'S recollecVions of the ballet, set down in this sparkling personal memoir in his pungent and highly individual prose, commences when, as a boy during World War l, he admired the precision drill of the Palace Girls in London. Then came the revelation of Pavlova, and later, when the undergraduate Beaton was beginning to evolve imaginative effects with a Brownie camera, the first exhilarating shock of the Ballet Russe and its brilliant impresario, Serge Diaghilev.

From then on much of Beaton's life and activities have centered on dancers and dancing, and he has worked intimately—as designer, photographer, collaborator, and enthusiastic connoisseur—with all the great figures of the ballet, Diaghileff, Lifar, Lopokova, Christian Berard, Balanchine, Markova, Margot Fonteyn, Frederick Ashton, Massine, all of whom are here deftly characterized. His memories and impressions range wherever ballet has flourished: London, Paris, New York, Moscow, Monte Carlo, Venice, and India. And particularly of the brilliant English company, the Sadler's Wells, whose development he has closely followed.

Over a hundred of Beaton's superb photographs are included in this book— portraits of star dancers, close-ups, scenes of ballet in action, and scenes behind the scenes. In addition, the text is embellished with dozens of drawings from his sketchbooks, and there is an enchanting title page.

Of especial interest to the balletomanes will be the backstage scenes in which Beaton describes in detail the genesis of a ballet, from the germinal idea to the final whole production—story, choreography, décor, costumes, lighting, music " —all the complex factors which must be integrated into this unique and scintillating art form.