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performing arts

Rene Blum & the Ballets Russes: In Search of a Lost Life

Judith Chazin-Bennahum.
Publisher Oxford  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.3 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780195399332
Pages/Publication Date 277/2011
Daedalus Item Code 30727
This item is not available.
(A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2011) This biography of a fascinating cultural hero by a former ballet dancer uncovers the life of a brilliant writer and producer who perished in the Holocaust. René Blum (the brother of the first socialist prime minister of France, Léon Blum) was a winner of the Croix de Guerre in World War I and the editor of the journal Gil Blas, where he met Claude Debussy, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, André Gide, and Paul Valéry, and arranged for the publication of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. But it is in the world of ballet where Blum is best remembered for resurrecting the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo after Diaghilev's death. Even though Blum was arrested by French police in 1941 and murdered at Auschwitz, his efforts to save the ballet company eventually helped to bring many of the world's greatest dancers and choreographers—including Fokine, Balanchine, and Nijinska—to American ballet stages, shaping the path of dance in the United States for years to come.

"Like a detective, Judith Chazin-Bennahum sets out to recover René Blum's fascinating and ultimately tragic life from the margins of history. Weaving him into the tapestry of the Belle Époque and les années folles, she reveals a life devoted from childhood to the arts, a writer-turned-ballet impresario who brought taste, passion, and a rare gift for friendship to everything he did."—Lynn Garafola

"Chazin-Bennahum has unearthed the truth about René Blum's extraordinary vision and artistic contributions. By illuminating the life of an important dance figure via an array of previously unknown primary sources, she also provides a first-rate model for dance biographies yet to come."—Elizabeth Aldrich

"Judith Chazin-Bennahum ... has done a heroic job in bringing to a larger public the life and work of René Blum, who was perhaps the quintessential embodiment of twentieth century European culture up until World War I and a major force in dance after 1925."—Art Times

"The book is a major achievement in dance history. But Chazin-Bennahum's finest work is her last chapter, a harrowing account of Blum's final days. His heroism and selflessness in an appalling situation will bring tears to your eyes."—Dance Magazine

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