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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Holding On To Air


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  • 2 months later...

Anne Freedgood, the editor of this book, as well as of the works of many prominent authors, died on Dec. 15, 2002. She was a great fan of Balanchine's NYCB, and of Suzanne Farrell.

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  • 1 year later...
drives2much

When I was at the library the other day I found Suzanne Farrell's book, Holding on to the Air. I brought it home, with an armful of other books, out of curiosity since I have read about her SI on this message board. I was planning on skimming this book at the least or reading it at my leisure.

 

My pre-teen, ballet-passionate daughter picked it up along with some other books and took it up to her room. I assumed that she would just look at the pages with the pictures and read the captions and move on to the other books that I had brought home (she loves to read). On her way out the door to catch her ride to ballet today, I noticed a bookmark in the book and she said that she was reading it.

 

Knowing that this is an adult autobiography, I am concerned that this book may have adult content that she should not be reading, especially on her own. I checked to see how far she has read-only up to page 33-phew. At least I can read to see what she has read so far.

 

Any land mines in the book that I should know about? She is a very good reader and with my other obligations, I know I can't keep ahead of her in the book. I don't want to stop her from reading it if there isn't any deep adult content.

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BalletNutter

The Suzanne Farrell book is relatively harmless -- no surprises or x-rated romances. However, you might not want her reading the Gelsey Kirkland autobiography, Dancing on My Grave. Gelsey was on a self-destructive path in her early years and it's all there uncensored.

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drives2much

Thanks, BalletNutter. I just read as far as she has and it seems to be fine. I am mostly concerned if it would get too personal with romances and intimacies of her own or other important people in her life, including alternate lifestyles which she knows a little about, but shouldn't be reading about it in a book at this age. Obviously I would want to know if it deals with drug use and eating disorders.

 

I did see the Gelsey Kirkland book at the library, too. I knew this book was rough in adult issues and was most interested in the Farrell book anyway. I really didn't bring the Farrell book home for my daughter. I knew she loved ballet, and might be interested in the pictures, but I didn't imagine she would want to read her life story at her young age.

 

If I can find the time, I may try to keep ahead of her. Where does one look for time, by the way? :wink::D:)

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driver of a dancer

I agree also harmless reading. My daughterr who is now 15 began reading the book in 4th grade at the age of 9. She is so happy to get her hands on anything having to do with Suzanne Farrell. It actually was her 4th grade book report for spring time that year. Read it in 48 hours.

Last count I think she has read it eleven times. She can quote from the book. :):D

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Drives2much, Suzanne Farrell's book is lovely, well written, and will be an inspiration to your daughter. One seems to view the preparation, music and performances through her eyes, or so it seems, so it's a very enjoyable. The portrayal of her relationship with Balanchine is written beautifully, and contains nothing that would be inapproriate at any age. I think your daughter could miss many subtleties, but she would still enjoy the book.

I can offer one other opinion too. My 15 year old niece loved Miss Farrell's book - also felt that my daughter, 13 at the time, would miss the nuances.

Isn't that true of so many things though?! You can relax and read it when yur daughter is finished!

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drives2much

Thanks for all of the reassurances. It is very refreshing to know that my daughter will be able to read this book without concern from me.

 

In my quick perusal, in the introduction I believe, is a comment about how Peter Martins told her she was a poor teacher and fired her. Yet, I also read that they danced together many times for NYCB (this is all new to me since I am a neophyte mom of a passionate, young ballerina). Is this all there was to it? Is this elaborated further in the book?

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As far as I know (and I've read Holding On To The Air and studied with Farrell), Martins and Farrell never had more than a professional relationship. The book does describe a bit of her marriage to Paul Meija (I'm never sure of that spelling), but focuses on how it affected her career.

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Mel Johnson

It's Mejia. And the marriage made the front page of the NY Times Metro section when it happened. Practically all of us familiar with the situation at the State Theater just sat back and predicted the inevitable. None of us, I think, thought that Suzanne would go to Bejart, though.

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Guest balletmom1

if she really enjoys the book you might want to track down the video/DVD, entitled Suzanne Farrell - elusive muse. We were able to get it at our local library.

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balletbooster

My daughter and I both read Ms. Farrell's book last spring when she was 13 and getting ready to attend Ms. Farrell's summer program. Both the book and the video were appropriate for my daughter's age. She didn't understand the intricacies of Ms. Farrell's relationships with many of the men in her life, but what she really enjoyed was her first hand telling of her early years of ballet training, her training at SAB and her earliest years at NYCB. For any young dancer who has a passion for ballet, Ms. Farrell's story is inspiring and written in a tone that the young dancer can easily identify with.

 

I agree with Balletmom1 on the video. After reading the book, it is fun for young dancers to view the video and put a voice and a face with the personality they have read about in the book. My daughter gets out the video from time to time and loves to listen to Ms. Farrell talk about dancing. Every few minutes she will say, "I remember her saying that." or "She was always telling us that!" So, I think the video does give an accurate glimpse into her unique approach to dancing. :thumbsup:

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