It’s always an occasion of rejoicing when a Tomorrowsbooks book arrives in print, and never has this been truer than in the case of Behind the Scenes at the Ballet Russes: Stories from a Silver Age, just published by I.B. Tauris. Its interviews with great dancers of the post-Diaghilev generation are fascinating, and not just for balletomanes: the stories of the families who fled Russia after the October Revolution, survived terrible hardships, and saw their daughters put on the road to stardom by the great teachers of the day, are particularly gripping and topical. To read it is to be taken not only behind the scenes but around the world – to the USA, South America and Australia, where the dancers blazed a trail and in many cases stayed on after their tours to lay the foundations of new national ballets. The reader can only wonder at the encyclopaedic knowledge which Michael Meylac displays – but just as much credit must go to the translator, Rosanna Kelly, who overcame all manner of unexpected obstacles and delays to produce an elegant and fluent text.
Hubert Butler (1900-1991) was both a brilliant writer and a fearless activist. His interest in Central and Eastern Europe gave him an early awareness of growing anti-Semitism in that region, inspiring his work on behalf of Jewish refugees and, after World War II, his investigations into ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Professor Roy Foster will chair a discussion of Butler’s work with his publisher Antony Farrell and biographer Robert Tobin at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P on Tuesday 14th November at 6.30 for 6.45 pm. Admission is free, but please email firstname.lastname@example.org to say that you’d like to come