The aim of this book is to give some indication of A. V. Coton's conception of his role as a dance critic and of the range of his activity, in time, place and interest. No writer on dance has set himself a wider brief. The writings from which this anthology has been selected extend over thirty years, in which he contrived to see nearly everything worth seeing in Europe and America in the sphere of theatrical dance. He wrote about it in three different styles which conditioned the presentation of his views: the daily press, with its limitations of space and tyrannical deadline; the periodical press, which allows of more detailed analysis, more developed themes, and frequently the chance of proof-corrections; and in books, the most satisfying medium of all.
In each style, however, his guiding principles and criteria remained firmly established. Three men dominate the text: Fokine, whose 'five principles' Coton wholeheartedly approved of as a measuring stick; and Antony Tudor and Kurt Jooss, each of whom, in the 1930s, provided him with personal revelations as to the scope and power of, respectively, Classical Ballet and Modern Dance. Because of the importance of this trio of choreographic creators to Coton's thought and reactions, they are represented at length. Coton's concern with the native scene in Britain was always close, and his analyses of the historical development of English ballet, and of its strength and weakness, remain full of stimulating, and occasionally controversial, convictions.