The history of Apollo’s angels: Dance historian speaks as part of JCFA lecture series

Photo courtesy of Butler University

In its varied forms and centuries-old tradition, ballet is an art form with no written text—until now.

Jennifer Homans, dance critic, historian and author of “Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet,” will speak on Feb. 22 in the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall as part of the Jordan College of Fine Arts’ “Leadership Through the Arts Forum.”

JCFA dean Ronald Caltabiano said Indianapolis is on the verge of creating its very own ballet company with the Indianapolis City Ballet’s premiere season taking off in the fall. He said this makes Homans’ visit more relevant.

“From my point of view,” Caltabiano said, “who better to talk to us as a community than someone who has done a definitive history of ballet?”

A former dancer, Homans provides insight into the culture of ballet in her new book.

Examining several facets of ballet, from the intricacy of the costumes to the way the bodies contort, Homans illuminates the past, present and future of this art form.

“The history of ballet informs the present of ballet,” Caltabiano said.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Homans said, “I kind of became engrossed in it [ballet].”

Homans began dancing in a world dominated by Russian influence and strict movements.

In order to discover how this culture came to be, she left the dancing world and dedicated her life to researching the dancing world

The forum is intended to bring innovative and transformative voices in the arts to campus to discuss their stories and struggles and to inspire students to follow their passions.

Caltabiano said that the series is a great way to start conversation in the Indianapolis community, perhaps even sparking conversation around campus.

“Campuses can take risks more easily than professional institutions,” Caltabiano said.  “So we must.”

Dance majors are equally excited.

“It is so important to have innovators in different fields visit campus…to share their experiences and knowledge of the world we would someday like to become a part of,” Mary Kate Kronzer, a sophomore dance major said.

Since JCFA is made up of five distinct concentrations, arts administration, visual arts, dance, music and theater, the series will feature guests representative of each of these areas.

Caltabiano said that he loved Homans’ book, and he has it on his nightstand.

“I pick it up from time to time,” Caltabiano said.

Homans kicks off the series, followed by Krzysztof Urbanski, music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Benjamin Ball, artist, designer and founder of Ball-Nogues Studio.

Caltabiano said he is most looking forward to having the opportunity to talk to three great people.

“Everyone has taken a significant risk in his or her art,” Caltabiano said.

Homan’s discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall in Robertson Hall.


7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall

7:30 p.m.
March 21
Atherton Union Reilly Room

7:30 p.m.
April 25
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall


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