Ballets Suedois/The Swedish Ballet

Bengt Hager, Author ABRAMS $95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-8109-3803-8
In 1920, the newly formed Ballets Suedois, based in Paris, performed its expressionistic Maison de fous (``The Madhouse'') in the legendary Theatre des Champs-Elysees; not since the arrival of Nijinsky had the city been so electrified by dance. The performers' contortions, as well as the startling gigantic hands that graced the backdrop, announced to Europeans innovative work, the brainchild of Rolf De Mare, founder of the troupe. Seeking out the best talent to fashion visual effects, De Mare was drawn to the likes of Leger, Cocteau and Rene Clair for stage designs; for scores, to the music of Ravel and Cole Porter; and to the ``expressive body language'' choreography of Jean Borlin. In exuberant color and bold layout this book mimics the visual audacity of its subject. Page after page reveals vibrant pencil sketches and watercolors of costumes, photographs of actual productions and reproduced posters (captions are sorely in need here). Hager, a Scandinavian dance critic, provides a well-written text surveying performances and personalities alike. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
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