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Books: A Winter Season


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Toni Bentley's "Winter Season," a diary of a season with NYCB, has been reissued, and with a new introduction in which she describes telling Balanchine about the book, and his reaction after reading it. She also includes a fascinating letter from Lincoln Kirstein in which he describes Balanchine's dances as having a sacramental function.

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BW it's been reprinted by the University Press of Florida, September 2003. It is, ahem, available at a site where purchases do not support Ballet Talk, but I assume Amazon will have it soon. The price, by the way, is a ridiculous 22 bucks, so it's worth buying from an online discounter like the one in the upper righthand corner of the screen whom I'm assuming will have it soon. :wink:

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The University Press of Florida is the best thing that's happened to bibliophile ballet lovers in a long time. Toni Bentley's book certainly deserves to be reissued. And in 2002, Florida also reissued Susanne Farrell's book (written with Toni Bentley). But even more important in 2002, they published, in a splendid hardcover first edition, Alexandra's great biography of Henning Kronstam. Bravi!

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What year was this written? I remember reading it some years ago when I checked it out from the library.

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I haven't read this since it came out, but I remember being fascinated by it, because there are very few books that deal with people who aren't stars, and she was so honest about her career. I remember a sentence "Then my ambitions were put on a diet, like the rest of me." I think this is probably very much Real Life for 95% of the ballet dancers in this country.

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Eureka, I got it today! My schedule has been such that I haven't taken a walk into the French Quarter in several years, even though it's a stone's throw from my office, but today the weather was so beautiful, I had to take a stroll, and right near where I ate is a fantastic vintage-y used bookstore with a great dance section. It took me about two seconds to find it. $8.00 -- I'm a happy camper. And, by the way, it was written in 1982. It's a short book -- totals 150 pages. I'm going to reread tonight. :huh:

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The preface to the new (2003) paperback is alone worth the admittedly hefty paperback price ($21.95) for this slim volume. It's dedicated to the late Anne Freedgood, whom I had the privilege of being acquainted with. She was a literary editor who was devoted to ballet and to Balanchine, and to Suzanne and to Toni, whose books she edited. Anne is yet another in the ever-increasing number of NYCB fans whose presence at the New York State Theater I greatly miss. I wrote the ads for the original hardcover of "Holding on to the Air," and Anne rewarded me with a poster which Suzanne subsequently inscribed. I look forward, now that I've tearfully made my way through the preface, to rereading Toni's book.

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  • 3 years later...

I originally read this book when I was 13, so at that time it was more of a " Oh ok it is a nice story about a dancer"

I reread this book as a 17 year old and now I seem to understand the significance of this book. A bit where I was confused on was "Isabelle" ( It might have to do with the fact that I wasn't around when Balanchine was, so I could have missed out a lot on the back story. That is why I come to Ballet Talk for help).

I was wondering if Isabelle was Tony Bently herself, or if she was a metaphor for all of the corps dancers in NYCB. I was also wondering if the "duke" was also a symbol of a greater "force" ( such as a principle danseur that all corps dancers fall in love with. I know I am using this loosely but I am trying to get a point across but I am having a hard time doing this)

Was the relationship of" Isabelle and Duke" pretty well known back in the time, or is it something that no one knew about.

Could the "Duke and Isabelle" have been a symbolism for Mr. B and NYCB dancers? Not the sexual part of course, but how Mr. B gave " first time feelings" for his brand new dancers? I am pretty sure the first time dancing a Balanchine Ballet was great!

Could it have been about his muses?

 

Sorry if this is turning into a long post, but I fell in love with this book the second time around ( I seemed to understand the whole " can't find the correct pointe shoes, non fitting bras, pain of relationship etc... that I wouldn't have been able to comprehend at the age of 13. This makes the book so much more real to me this time.) I tend to do this with books I want to understand more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S I tend to analyze books so much... I might become a English Major at this rate :wub:

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Here is one thread on it, over on Ballet Talk:

Winter Season

 

Here are some reader's reviews from Amazon:

Reviews

 

I haven't read this book, but it appears that it is very much Toni's diary from that time period.

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I looked at Ballet Talk and the amazon reviews, but it didn't really answer the specific question I had. I guess it is really hard to understand the question if you haven't read the book :D

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Hi ! I haven't read the book in a while, but it seems to me it is what we call a fictional autobiography, and that she does describe her own experience, and probably the relations between Mr B and his dancers are quite accurately described too...

If I can find the time to read it again, I'll let you know more precisely ...

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