As dancers, we know why we love ballet—but for a new audience member, our beautiful, silent art form may seem like a mystery. Enter Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet. Written by celebrated dance critic Laura Jacobs, this new book (available May 8 from Basic Books) offers insights on how burgeoning ballet fans can better understand and appreciate the choreographic language they're watching onstage. But it's also a compelling read for dancers and experienced dance lovers.
Jacobs journeys through pivotal moments in ballet's history, providing context for the great masterpieces (Giselle, Swan Lake, Serenade and more) and fleshing out her essays with insights from ballerinas such as Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part, Alessandra Ferri and Sara Mearns. She explains how ballet is a living art form, ever changing with each viewing as new ideas reveal themselves or as different dancers bring fresh interpretations. Celestial Bodies also offers a poetic reminder of the beauty within ballet's foundational elements, ones we often take for granted: the five positions, the pointe shoe, the perfect pirouette—not to mention a passionate chapter devoted to the arabesque.
Jacobs, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and the longtime dance critic for The New Criterion, has also written for Pointe. In fact, we're excited to share that two chapters in Celestial Bodies are expansions of essays first published our magazine: "In Pursuit of Perfection" (April/May 2015) and "Defining 'Ballerina'" (December/January 2013). Whether you are budding balletomane or a lifelong dancer, Celestial Bodies will inspire you to look more closely at our beloved art form—and fall more deeply in love with it.
We're giving away two copies of Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet. For information on how to enter, click here.