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My Theatre Life
August Bournonville; Patricia N. McAndrew, trans.; Svend Kragh-Jacobsen, intro.; Erik Bruhn, fwd.

Available only as an ebook.

Wesleyan Open Books

1979 • 730 pp. 16 pages of plates 7 x 10"
Theater & Performing Arts / Biography / Memoir

$0.00 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7791-7

Open access - no commercial use
Click Open Access at right to check availability.

Here is one of the truly important source books in the history of theatre and dance: the great Danish dancer/balletmaster’s own account of his career and his works. August Bournonville’s life spanned three-quarters of the nineteenth century (1805-1879), and fifty of those years he spent as artistic director, organizer, and guiding genius of the Royal Danish Ballet, with frequent forays to Naples, Rome, London, Imperial Russia, and Paris. The book presents a huge, colorful panorama of Danish and European artistic-social-cultural life over sixty yearsa collection of memories and reflections on the author’s professional career and associations, set down at different times and published in three volumes over a thirty-year period between 1848 and 1878. The present edition, first published in 1979, remains the only English translation of this masterful work.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Now for the first time in English we have one of the great dance biographies of all time. Our acquaintance with August Bournonville is long overdue, for he was one of the seminal figures in the history of theatrical dance. In Patricia McAndrew’s scholarly and sensitive translation, My Theatre Life opens to us a treasure house of information about nineteenth-century ballet personalities and practices. Here Bournonville candidly discusses dance and dancers, but also applies his considerable intelligence to all the arts of his day, and to social and political issues as well. His range is wide, his perceptions sharp, his opinions fascinating. To anyone interested in the history of European ballet, My Theatre Life will be indispensable. And readers will find its pages as delightful as they are instructive.” Selma Jeanne Cohen

“The appearance of Bournonville’s memoirs…is an event of capital importance for dance scholars…[These memoirs] not only tell us about his ballets and dancers of his time, but give many precious insights into European theatrical history and writers, artists, musicians whose paths crossed his. They reveal, in short, a complete man, wholly dedicated to his art but taking his place in a wider artistic world…

“This excellent translation makes readily available to scholars and students of ballet one of the greatest classics of dance literature. For all who are interested in nineteenth-century ballet it will be an essential addition to their libraries and one that will be taken from the bookshelf time and time again to be consulted, pondered over, and – most important – enjoyed.”
Ivor Guest

AUGUST BOURNONVILLE (1805-1879) was a Danish ballet master and choreographer, creator of the Bournonville Method. His best known ballets are La Sylphide (1836), Napoli (1842), Le Conservatoire (1849) and A Folk Tale (1854).

PATRICIA McANDREW is an independent dance historian who works at Lehigh University.

An NEH / Mellon Humanities Open Book Grant Recipient


Tue, 15 May 2018 13:55:36 -0500