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Books: Balanchine, Celebrating a Life in Dance

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Disclaimer: I'm one of the contributors to this book, but I'd put a link up to it if I weren't!


This should be out in November, I think. I just got the catalogue for it today.


Published by Tide-mark:


"Balanchine, Celebrating a Life in Dance"

Photographs by Costas

Hardcover. 10 X 12 inches, 248 pages, 250+ color and black and white photos. 1-55949-545-5, $45.00"


It's organized by ballet, I think, and each ballet is illustrated with photos (the catalogue shows Apollo, with 12 photos, including rehearsal shots) and each ballet has commentary by a dancer who either created a leading role or was closely associated with leading roles -- the catalogue includes Farrell, Martins, Mazzo, Tallchief, Tomasson, Villella, and von Aroldingen; I know there are more -- or a critic writing about a particular ballet.


Obviously intended as a Balanchine Centennial book. I haven't seen it yet. If anyone does, please comment. (I have a very minor part in this, and please don't let that stymie discussion.)

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Thanks, Alexandra!


Oh, this is gonna be fun! Over a light supper with mutual friends one night this past spring, I helped Costas identify some of the dancers in the '70s and '80s era photos!

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It hit me last night that there are several writers known to readers of Ballet Alert! who also contributed to the book -- I didn't mean to overlook them (and none of them contacted me about it!) I'd really meant what I wrote above as a disclaimer. BUT Paul Parish, Mary Cargill, Leigh Witchel, Martha Ullman West also contributed. I know George Jackson and Clive Barnes wrote something, and I'm assuming Nancy Reynolds did as well (she and Costas collaborate the NYCB calendar every year). If I've forgotten anyone, apologies, and please email me.


Of more interest to readers, I'm sure, are the dancers. Costas tried to get as many dancers as possible, so this is a very partial list (from the catalogue and a few from my own knowledge): Peter Martins, Suzanne Farrell, Edward Villella, Ib Andersen, Sean Lavery, Karin von Aroldingen, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief. I'm sure there are many more.


And, as several people who have seen the catalogue wrote me, what really matters is the photos!

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  • 2 months later...

For those who've been looking forward to this book, it's out now, and despite the $45 price, the Kennedy Center sold out its copies this past weekend. I found the color in a lot of the photos rather garish, and I didn't buy a copy, but I'll suppose I'll break down eventually and shell out for the essays.

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I did break down and bought it. I love the book. It's beautifully written (by some of our friends here) and the ballets are given loving tributes. The photos are wonderful. I had been eyeing the Zakharova as Sugar Plum at the Lincoln Center gallery for a few seasons but just couldn't afford the price of the actual photograph, but it is here in the book. Of course, I was pleased to see so many Farrell pictures, as well as current favorites Meunier (in Brahms-Schoenberg and Who Cares?) and Part (in Serenade and Symphony in C), Zelensky, Bussell, Ringer etc... as well as so many dancers from my childhood.


Here's a list of ballets with the "commentators:"


Agon - Arthur Mitchell

Apollo - Peter Martins

Ballo Della Regina - Merrill Ashley

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet - Colleen Neary

Chaconne - Joel Lobenthal

Concerto Barocco - Barbara Weisberger

Coppelia - Mary Cargill

Diamonds - Caitlin Sims

Divertimento No. 15 - Nancy Goldner

Divert. from Baiser de la Fee - Helgi Tomasson

Don Q. - Suzanne Farrell

Duo Concertant - Kay Mazzo

Emeralds - Mimi Paul and Violette Verdy

Episodes - Marian Horosko

Firebird - Maria Tallchief

4ts - Virginia Johnson

Harlequinade - Suki Schorer

Liebeslieder Walzer - Karin von Aroldingen

Midsummer Night's Dream - Francia Russell

Monumentum/Movements - Mindy Aloff

Mozartiana - Ib Anderson

Nutcracker - Ellen Switzer

Orpheus - Don Daniels

Prodigal Son - Edward Villella

Raymona Variations - Andris Liepa

Davidsbundlertanze - Leigh Witchel

Rubies - Robert Weiss

Scotch Symphony - Alexandra Tomalonis

Serenade - Jean Battey Lewis

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue - Doris Herina

La Sonnambula - Paul Parish

La Source - Violette Verdy

Square Dance - Patricia Wilde

Stars and Stripes - Gia Kourlas

Steadfast Tin Soldier - Robert Johnson

Stravinsky Violin Concerto - Susan Jaffe

Swan Lake - Robert Greskovic

Symphony in C - Nina Ananiashvili

Symphony in Three Movements - Sara Leland

Tchaik. Pas de Deux - Cynthia Gregory

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 - Robert Gottlieb

Theme and Variations - Olga Chenchikova

Le Tombeau de Couperin - Rosemary Dunleavy

Tzigane - Sarah Kaufman

Union Jack - Richard N. Philp

La Valse - Harris Green

Vienna Waltzes - Sean Lavery

Walpurgisnacht - Don McDonagh

Western Symphony - Martha Ullman West

Who Cares? - Larry Kaplan


And further essays on Balanchine, the Trust, and Foundation etc.. by Clive Barnes, Lynn Garafola, and Nancy Reynolds.


There are two mistakes I noted - Katherine Tracey is noted in a caption as "Catherine" and in Diver. #15, Illman from Canada is shown. She did guest as the lead, but is shown in the first movement of Symphony in C.


However, it's a great book to add to my Balanchine collection. Costas' photographs always have been special (I get his calendar every year). The photos are not just have NYCB, but show the global influence of Balanchine with selections of the Bolshoi, ABT, the Royal, the Mariinsky, and PNB.

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". . . [D]espite the $45 price, the Kennedy Center sold out its copies this past weekend."

:o The Shops at Lincoln Center hadn't even received the first shipment as of yesterday!


Thanks so much for listing contents, Dale. There are some that I'm just dying to read. The inside/outside points of view make this an exceptionally intriguing collection of essays.

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I think Costas is a great dance photographer, and I was proud to be asked to contribute. I haven't seen it yet, but I think of it as HIS book, an extended photo-essay with some real long captions. (On the other hand, I can't wait to see what Verdy and Paul wrote abut Emeralds, and Tomasson about Baiser de la Fee, Tallchief on Firebird, Farrell on Mr. B's Don Q, just for starters. These are the key participants, ANYTHNG they say will be gold.)


Alexandra should feel some influence from her book on Kronstam on my short essay, since it's about La Sonnambula (one of Kronstam's great roles), and I was inspired by what he told her about the ballet....


Thanks Dale for listing all the contributors -- You've really whetted my appetite to see it now.

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I have it. I bought several for holiday gifts. Actually, there are some places which sell it for very much less money (and I got the links through Amazon)

anyway, yes, it's lovely

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Thanks to Dale for typing in that long long list! A friend emailed me this morning (I still haven't seen it) with one thing that was left off --


Introduction, by Costas


Chapter 1, The Art of George Balanchine by George Jackson


The order of the book is then:


Chapter 2, The Life of George Balanchine, Clive Barnes, followed by the ballet essays and at the end, the Trust and the Foundation by, respectively, Barbara Horgan and Nancy Reynolds.




I've known Costas for years, and two stories about the photographs I don't think he'd mind my telling are these:


One, he would get to a rehearsal early and sit underneath the piano, so that people would forget he was there. And two, there were times when he would be alerted to a rehearsal on short notice. He was teaching (mathematics, at a New York private school) and would go to the headmaster and say he was "having palpitations" and needed to be excused for the rest of the day.


I'm sorry if the printing process has given the prints a garish tone, as kfw mentioned above, because I love his photographs.

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One, he would get to a rehearsal early and sit underneath the piano, so that people would forget he was there. And two, there were times when he would be alerted to a rehearsal on short notice. He was teaching (mathematics, at a New York private school) and would go to the headmaster and say he was "having palpitations" and needed to be excused for the rest of the day.

If I was going to watch a rehearsal of Balanchine's, I'd be having palpitations too!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got it as a Christmas present from my husband, after having just a quick look at it I have to say how lovely I think it is. The color pictures are beautiful but the black and white pictures of Balanchine working with his dancers are my favorites. Thanks to all who participated in this wonderful book!

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  • 3 weeks later...

There will be a book launching Tuesday, January 27 at 7PM in the big Barnes & Noble Bookstore near Lincoln Center (at Broadway & 67th Street).


There will be a 1-hour roundtable with Lourdes Lopez, Virginia Johnson, Nancy Reynolds, Sean Lavery and Costas.

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Guest E Johnson

I also got a copy from my husband for Christmas and am very much enjoying it. My favorite comment, though, came from my almost three year old son, who flipped through it briefly and then announced: "when I am a big man, I will do ballet!"

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