November 12, 2008
Contact: Emanuel Costache ’09
Media Relations Intern

AMHERST, Mass.—Stanley J. Rabinowitz, Henry Steele Commager Professor and Professor of Russian at Amherst College, is the translator and editor of a new selection of Russian critic Akim Volynsky’s essays on Russian ballet, titled Ballet’s Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925 ($35, Yale UP, 2008). Of the new book, author Tim Scholl said: “Only a scholar of Stanley Rabinowitz’s erudition and experience could navigate the treacherous waters of Russian cultural politics in the early 20th century, the tempestuous world of Russian and Soviet dance and the thorny contradictions of Volynsky’s thought and syntax to bring

Photo courtesy of Gigi Kaeser

 these invaluable documents into English.”

Volynsky was a Russian literary critic, journalist and art historian who became Saint Petersburg’s most prolific ballet critic in the early 20th century. With more than a simple critique, Volynsky provides a striking look at life inside the world of Russian ballet at a crucial era in its history. The book marks the first time his provocative and influential writings on dance have appeared in English.

Rabinowitz selected and translated 40 of Volynsky’s articles that include accounts of such dance luminaries as Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina and George Balanchine, whose keen musical sense and creative interpretive power Volynsky was one of the first to recognize. Rabinowitz also translated Volynsky’s magnum opus, The Book of Exaltations, an elaborate meditation on classical dance technique that is at once a primer and an ideological treatise. In his critical introduction, Rabinowitz sets Volynsky’s life and work against the backdrop of the principal intellectual currents of his time, making the case for Volynsky’s emphasis on the spiritual and ethereal qualities of ballet.

Rabinowitz is the director of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, which houses what is generally considered one of America’s finest collections of 20th century Russian rare books, periodicals and archives, assembled by Thomas P. Whitney ’37. In addition to courses in Russian language acquisition, Rabinowitz also teaches popular courses in Russian culture and literature in translation.