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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Dance books, dance magazines

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I agreed with many of the previously mentioned selections. I'm at work so I don't have my bookshelf at the ready but some of my favorite books are the three Arlene Croce collections. I always refer to them before seeing a ballet either for the first time or if I haven't seen it in a while. I wish I could write like her. When I was little, I really thought I could see the ballets just through her words. However, later in her life she got very bitter. Is she still alive?


Another favorite is the Balanchine Muses book. Again, I don't have it in front of me but almost every muse of Balanchine's is interviewed in transcript form with a studio shot and archieve photos. Only Tanaquil Le Clerq is missing. And I believe Diana Adams didn't want to have her picture taken. It goes from Tamara Geva to Darci Kistler. I really love that book.


Another is "I remember Balanchine." edited by Francis Mason. It's sort of funny to read former company members disparaging some of the other dancers. Well, not funny but intriguing. I also enjoyed the somewhat new bios by Tallchief and Kent.


I adore picture books, the latest which is the Romeo and Juliet book with Angel Corella and Paloma Herrera. In January, the NYCB should be putting out a 50th anv. program and a catalogue of their current photo exhibit. I



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  • Dale


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Thank you Jane for the information about Karsavina's book and the bit of film with her in class. I will try to find that.


There is a document (I don't know if it was on film or video originally because I taped it from television) called "Portrait of Giselle" where Sir Anton Dolin can be seen talking with Tamara Karsavina (very briefly) and Olga Spessivtseva (amongst others). It's an hour and a half document with all the great interpreters of Giselle.


Olivier, as soon as the tape of Evelyn Hart was on sale I purchased it. It is very well done (The National Film Board of Canada usually does very good work) and I love it, but thank you.


Dale, if you love the book about Balanchine's Ballerinas there is also a video edition of this. It's a 90 minutes long program with interviews and film excerpts of: Mary Ellen Moylan, Maria Tallchief, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Merrill Ashley and Darci Kistler.



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hello and welcome back, Dale - Hadn't read you in awhile, and I missed you! Have you been to many Nutcrackers?


I'm a fan of all your choices. I read "After Images" once or twice a year for ten years, until I'd practically memorized it. I especially found the essays at the back of the book useful. I must say that I did not always agree with her, but I always took her seriously. So many of the things she wrote about in the '70s and '80s have come true. I particularly remember her writing about the Royal when they came here in the mid-'80s, after running through a list of things that were wrong with the company, saying, "But what's the use? It's like straightening the pictures in a house that's been bombed." I thought that harsh of her at the time, thought, "Oh, come on. They're not that bad." I didn't see what she saw until the early '90s, when they came with a new Swan Lake and a new "improved" dancing style.


Yes, she did get bitter, perhaps, but that happens when everything you loves dies on you. She is very much alive, still going, and writing a book about Balanchine's ballets.


I also loved "Balanchine's Muses" -- the photographs as well as the text. When you get dancers talking about dancing, it's the best of all.


While we're on Balanchine books, I also learned an enormous amount from Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review; I only wish it had been updated, if only until Balanchine's death. I poured over that book, trying to figure out his way of categorizing dancers and casting.



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Hi, I've been on vacation. What I love about Croce's reviews are that they were a record of a performance. Many reviews use about 70 percent to explain the history of the ballet and the form and the rest on the dancers, as if wasn't important. Such as, "The swan queen was danced by Kyra Nichols, ably partnered by Damien Woetzel." I want to know about the quality of the performance, what choices the dancers made, etc.. Croce did that.


To Margo -- I have the tape and viewed it about 100 times. I know Suzanne Farrell chose not to participate because she was working on a movie, eventually done by the same director and producer. And she was mentioned by Tallchief and Ashley with a clip of her dancing Terpsichore to Peter Martins' Apollo. However, there was just one brief still photo of Patricia McBride in Raymonda Variations. Her place as a Balanchine muse is sometimes lost. She's also one of the few Balanchine top dancers not to write a book (to return this post to written word).


-- Dale, who has been Nutcrackering it lately.

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Guest Celia Yves

Good evening,

I am new to this board, and I would first of all like to tell you all how greatly I have enjoyed reading your posts.

And on to the books subject.

Karen Kain's autobiography "Movement Never Lies" is what got me curious about ballet in the first place. Some passages are extremely insightful, and after reading this book, I could not help it - I had to investigate.

This is how I started reading more and more. Autobiographies are always interesting, even if sometimes the quality of the writing is not exactly stellar. Yet there is a certain amount of soul in it which might be difficult to have transcribed by another person. I have read books by or about several dancers, including Suzanne Farrell, Maria Tallchief, Evelyn Hart, amongst others. This is how the "Balanchine" entry in my brain expanded a little from the initial "Russian. Ballet choreographer." ("Balanchine's Ballerinas" was quite a good read.) I started watching TV, where I first saw Sylvie Guillem - who does the word "summum" some justice. I then proceeded to watch all of the ballet videos which I could get my hands on. Which brought me to Natalia Makarova's Swan Lake. It was all one big chain reaction.

Celia, thanking the impulse she had to borrow Kain's book in the first place.

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Hello, Celia, and welcome. I'm fascinated that you'd buy a book about a dancer when you weren't a dance fan! You're the reader all publishers want to reach!


What made you buy that book?


I found your "career path" through ballet interesting, too. You have good instincts!



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Alexandra, I really agree with what you said about

Nancy Reynold's "Repertory in review". A friend of mine gave it to me

(and I'm very very very grateful for that), and since then I've read it again

and again. I wish too there were an updated version...

And reading it is all the more frustrating as I'm very unlikely to see

most of the ballets which are listed.

And of course, I'd love to see a similar book about the Paris Opera Ballet. The task would

probably be harder, since the history of the company is longer (and I'm not sure that all the

archives were kept), but that really would be interesting.

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Well the only dance mag I get is dance australia. i love dance magazines with lots of gorgeous pictures -dancers make the most wonderful models!

I love 'Dancing on my Grave' and 'the Shape of Love' by Gelsey Kirkland and 'Holding onto the Air' by Suzanne Farrel (I wish my teacher would hurry up and give it back!)

I recently read 'Balanchine; a ballet master' by Richard Buckle and found it very stale...

Unfortunately Giannina I haven't read any of those books.. but i'll be keeping an eye out!


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Guest Celia Yves

Alexandra, thank you for your welcome.

I don't really know what made me get that book. I was looking for something new to read. Biographies are interesting a great deal of the time. I'm into arts in general, and the book was on display. The picture on the cover was beautiful (it would be hard not to find most ballet pictures fascinating - they really do stand out,) and I just picked it up and looked at the blurb in the back. Her life seemed interesting, and I guess I took it from there.

About my ballet path, I think that I was really lucky. If I remember correctly, the first ballet segment which I saw after reading Kain's book was Sylvie Guillem in the White Swan pas de deux and in the Don Quichotte pas de deux. It would be hard to get much better than that.


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I read Dance Magazine, Ballet Review, and sometimes Dance Now. I've read Dance Times a few times at the NYC Performing Arts Library but found it just once at a newstand. I soon will be receiving Ballet Alert etc.. as a birthday gift.


Ballet Review is really one of my favorites but I don't know why a magazine that has "Ballet" in the title has so many articles on Modern Dance, which I know I should like more than I do.



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About dance magazines:

I only get some French magazines (finding them often is

difficult, so it's even worse with foreign ones...):

"Les Saisons de la Danse", "Danser" and "Ballet 2000" (French version of "Balletto Oggi").

I sometimes have a look at "Danse Conservatoire", but dislike so much the tone and opinions of their director that I

seldom buy it.

"Les Saisons de la Danse" is the most complete French magazine in my opinion. It looks less "nice" than "Danser" (no color photographs, for example), but their reviews are longer and they are more interested in dance history.

They used to deal almost only about classical ballet, but now there are quite a lot of articles about

contemporary dance; their new director, Philippe Verriele (who is plagued by an awful spelling, that's quite annoying), who is the successor of the late

Andre-Philippe Hersin, clearly isn't a specialist of classical ballet; I wish he didn't feel compelled to write the reviews of the POB performances...

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All this book and magazine talk is very interesting, and I hate to be a traffic cop, but I created a whole forum for reading material, and I'd love it if this discussion could continue there.


As a helpful hint, I'm closing the thread!





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  • 2 weeks later...

If you are a fan of Keith Money, I would urge you to try to track down his book on the figure skater John Curry (Curry's name is the title of the book). It has an excellent text, interesting pictures, and is one of -- no, it's the only -- aesthetically intelligent book on figure skating I've encountered so far. I also enjoyed the most recent book on Fonteyn and Nureyev. The photographs are not all that exceptional, but the text, again, is good, and with camera subjects like Fonteyn and Nureyev it's hard not to come up with something at least worth looking at.

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Guest Giannina

I've been trying to find Darcy Bussell's book ("Life in Dance", right?) and have had no luck. The only source I find is Dance Book, Ltd. in London and the price is hefty because of shipping. Can anyone help?




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Guest Steve Keeley



Try www.amazon.co.uk


The price there is


"Life in Dance" 14.39 pounds/$23.84

Air mail post 4.95 pounds/$ 8.20

Total 19.34 pounds/$32.04


(Based on today's exchange rate of $1.6566/pound)


I don't know of any U.S. sellers.



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