To many of us, classical ballet is a visible heaven. We gaze into it not fully understanding its hypnotic effect or why at moments we are so overwhelmed by the beauty of an arabesque that it takes our breath away. We enjoy "wow" moments when dancers perform extraordinary feats and also enjoy a rush of warmth when dancers gift us with phrasing that heightens our nerves' responses to the music – when they actually make us physically feel the music more intensely.
Even those of us who have stood at the barre for many years, have stood in the rush ticket line for many years, have stood 32 rows back at the Met Opera House for a glimpse of an important Odette/Odile, have stood firmly with an unyielding "higher loyalty" to the art form's classical values while its constitution was being attacked (oh yeah, that book is coming, too) – we often don't take the time to reflect on why we love this art form so much or why we would be willing to go without food in order to buy a ticket. It's not human nature to question our passions; we just live them.
In Celestial Bodies, Laura Jacobs weaves together elements of technique, history, theory, music, and the inter-relationship of the arts to engage the reader in a fresh-eyed look at ballet's tradition and current state. She bourrees on a straight line right into the dancer's obsession with perfection, extends a deep révérence to Tchaikovsky – "Put simply, it is impossible to imagine the art of ballet without Tchaikovsky, impossible to know where it would have gone, or if it could even have survived, without him." – and devotes a chapter to that divine iconic image of the art, the arabesque. This sparkling, eloquent book will make going to the ballet a richer experience for both the novice and the passionate.
Laura Jacobs will be reading from Celestial Bodies on Tuesday May 8th (the release date) at 6PM at The Corner Bookstore, 1313 Madison Avenue @ 93rd St.