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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Gelsey Kirkland


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Gelsey was badly hurt by becoming physically intimate with men who did not really care about her as a person, and she fell into a "self-medicating" lifestyle (in other words, she became very dependent on drugs). Even as an eleven-year-old, Gelsey was a very sweet girl, but who was far too willing, even eager, to be sad. What happened to her breaks my heart.

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  • 2 months later...
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  • Mel Johnson

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Hi there! Take a look at this thread/topic that is a few pages back: Kirkland's book and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, too! Make sure you take your time to get to know the different forums, check out the How To section, etc. :grinning:

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  • 4 months later...
mini cooper

I tried to order this recently through the used books section of Barnes & Noble, but they could not get it. Any suggestions about where else to look for it?

 

Thanks!

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Farrell Fan

If you click on the Amazon banner on top of this thread, you will see they have numerous new and used copies of Dancing on my Grave, starting at 75 cents. I disliked the book intensely.

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mini cooper

Thanks to both of you. I have read mixed reviews about the book. Checking it out at the library may be the best choice.

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Guest dancer522

I would reccomend buying it. I hadn't heard of anyone not loving it until this thread. I found it in my basement (it was my mom's book), and I loved it. I've read it twice and also written an autobiogroahy report for English on it.

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Oh, gosh, there's always been a lot of controversy surrounding this book, or shoudl I say, this author. I have a very strong opinion myself; I suspect it's nearly identical to Farrell Fan's.

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I think that it needs to be put into context for the younger reader. I had some very distorted images about certain great figures in the ballet world, because I didn't fullly understand it as a young teenager. I took everything verbatim. Maybe other kids are smarter readers than I was. I didn't understand the concept that this was one person's perspective. I didn't quite realize what was going on.

 

Now as an adult I read the book and all I get is that she blamed everyone else for her problems when it was written. She hadn't gotten her life back together yet, and I find it annoying to read.

 

I disliked George Balanchine for years based on this book.

 

I didn't have very high verbal comprehension skills, though. And I had trouble "reading between the lines" as a child/teen. For me it was extreme, but I still think some perspective could help young readers to navigate this book.

 

That said, I took a Master class recently from Ms.Kirkland, and got her to autograph my book. She was very gracious and lovely, and I was thrilled to have gotten a personal correction from her during the class. She held my hand and looked deeply into my eyes. It meant a lot to me.

 

And she was a great ballerina. Many artists have some "problems", and any sort of exposure to this can be educational, so long as the context of the book is really understood.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yuck! I just finished with this book. I couldn't quite finish the whole thing but I am done reading. I remember seeing pictures of Gelsey when she was written up in Life magazine. There was a beautiful spread of her and her sister. In one photo she was in her Firebird costume (which she complains about in her book as being ugly). In another photo, she was sitting in a center split with her head on her elbows. It was weird to read how she 'really' felt when that was going on. Gelsey comes across as very immature and narcisistic. Not attractive at all.

 

Compared to Suzanne Farrell's book and Merrill Ashley's book, this book is not written very well and did not hold my interest. And then there is that strange section where she starts spouting off about the 'system' being responsible for people taking illegal drugs. It's like she's trying to educate the readers about some big conspiracy. Whatever...

 

A good book you don't want to put down. This one I never want to pick up again.

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When I was a child I was obsessed with Tchaikovsky and wanted to read about him. My aunt, who was the guardian of my education and reading, told me I couldn't, so of course I kept checking out biographies of him from the library and hiding them under the mattress. She'd always find them and take them back to the library. She told me, "He was a very unhappy man and little girls shouldn't read about unhappy men."

 

I'd put Dancing on my Grave in the same category. I think it presents a very distorted and disturbing view of ballet. As an adult, one might be sympathetic to Ms. Kirkland's problems. But I'd try to keep children from reading it. One of our earliest posters was 12 -- this was before COPPA! -- and she loved Kirkland. She read the book and would give us updates on her progress. At the end of the book she posted, "I don't love Gelsey Kirkland any more."

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Guest PinkieTink

No offense to anyone who likes Gelsey Kirkland, but wasn't she very self destructive? :lol: Also, wasn't she like...doing weird things to look and be like Suzanne Farrel? I haven't read the book, but I thought I remembered hearing that.

 

 

 

---------

~Dancing isn't what I do, it's who I am~

 

*Those who dream touch the stars*

 

-Dance like there is no tomorrow-

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Mel Johnson

Actually, Suzanne wasn't one of Gelsey's ideals. Allegra Kent was. We all knew by the time Gelsey was 11 that she was headed up, fast. She did a lot of what she did in order to satisfy her own idea of the "beautiful". She ended up a sort of slow-motion train wreck, that her friends might watch in horror, but we couldn't do anything to help! :lol:

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Guest littlepiggy333

Mel, are you sure? I'm almost positive I remember that from the book, but it has been a while since I read it. I'll go look it up....

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