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Leo Lerman


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#1 Neryssa

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 10:33 AM

Is anyone reading: "The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman?" I have read that it is rather gossipy but it would be interesting to read Lerman's impressions of Lincoln Kirstein, Balanchine, and the dancers he met in general.

Neryssa

#2 bart

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 11:32 AM

Neryssa, we have had some references to the book before. If you enter "Lerman" in the BT Search engine (above), you'll find them. You may learn more about the latter days of Garbo, Callas and Dietrich than ballet, but Lerman did know all of the big ballet players in New York, and the index will provide you with lots of tidbits.

Here's part of an account of Lerman's 5-hour dinner with Balanchine (at Pavillon with Barbara Horgan);

When George told about Diaghilev, his voice grew higher, broken, and a kind of feminine curve and register. This was obviously Diaghilev being heard by George: "I knew nothing -- He took me to museums, churches -- He say -- Perugino -- I look -- I see nothing -- He goes away -- I look -- still nothing -- nothing -- a blob orange -- a piece blue -- He comes back -- 'So, tell me. So, you see?' ;'No,' I tell him, nothing. I see nothing.' 'So, stay here until you see. We go to lunch. You no lunch. You stay ... ' He go -- I stay -- Later -- much later -- I see -- beautiful -- beautiful. ... And always, I look everywhere for Perugino. Perugino is the only one I know, so I look for him .

[ ... ]

Sometimes we engaged in duets, but mostly he was solo -- and tremendous. "I can't write," he said. "But out of this jungle," I told him, " ... patches of this jungle are gardens." The gestures -- modified wizard gesturs -- nothing baroque about his gestures, more etched on air. But his talk -- a sort of neoclassical base, pure -- the though and words meshed -- not padded with images -- but pure constructions -- imagined facts ... Five hours of this.


Has anyone else read it? It would be interesting to hear your responses. For me, it's definitely a book to read by following own's own favorite people through the index, skipping around, rather than reading it sequentially. Lerman emerges as more interesting for his encounters with others rather than for his own sake.

If I were going to a desert island and could only take three books about the Balanchine side of the NYCB dance scene, they would be Francis Mason, ed., I Remember Balanchine , Richard Buckle's out of print biography George Balanchine: Ballet Master, and the relevant pages of Martin Duberman's biography, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein.

#3 liebs

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 11:34 AM

I read most but not all of it. He lead a fascinating life but the book gets a little repetative. The great thing is that you can browse the index and just read about the people who are interesting to you. There is quite a lot on Callas, which is intriguing - also Dietrich.

Most of what I remember about Kirstein from the book has to do with his private life, his sister, etc.

#4 Neryssa

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 12:01 PM

Neryssa, we have had some references to the book before. If you enter \\\"Lerman\\\" in the BT Search engine (above), you\\\'ll find them. You may learn more about the latter days of Garbo, Callas and Dietrich than ballet, but Lerman did know all of the big ballet players in New York, and the index will provide you with lots of tidbits.

Here\\\'s part of an account of Lerman\\\'s 5-hour dinner with Balanchine (at Pavillon with Barbara Horgan);

When George told about Diaghilev, his voice grew higher, broken, and a kind of feminine curve and register. This was obviously Diaghilev being heard by George: \\\"I knew nothing -- He took me to museums, churches -- He say -- Perugino -- I look -- I see nothing -- He goes away -- I look -- still nothing -- nothing -- a blob orange -- a piece blue -- He comes back -- \\\'So, tell me. So, you see?\\\' ;\\\'No,\\\' I tell him, nothing. I see nothing.\\\' \\\'So, stay here until you see. We go to lunch. You no lunch. You stay ... \\\' He go -- I stay -- Later -- much later -- I see -- beautiful -- beautiful. ... And always, I look everywhere for Perugino. Perugino is the only one I know, so I look for him .


Oh, so sorry, I thought I had searched Ballet Talk but I must have done something wrong...

Thank you for providing some quotes. I agree with your list of books. \\\"I Remember Balanchine\\\" is a book I keep near my provisions/first aid kit in case I need to run out of the apartment in case of an emergency.

Neryssa

#5 bart

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 12:06 PM

My apologies: the search advice I gave above was not correct. :blush:

I think there's a design flaw with the search engine. If you type in "Lerman" at the top of THIS page, for example, you only get references to Lerman on this forum. In the search box, however, you can choose "More Search Options," which brings you to ANOTHER box. Type "Lerman" there and you'll find references from the entire Board.

I had many disappointing results before I learned this trick.

#6 Barbara

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:40 AM

I received the Leo Lerman book for Christmas and starting it has been a little daunting for me. I've begun it a few times and then drifted to other books. Thanks for the suggestion to start by reading about the people that are of interest to me. I'll try that.

#7 Helene

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 11:01 AM

My apologies: the search advice I gave above was not correct. :blush:

I think there's a design flaw with the search engine. If you type in "Lerman" at the top of THIS page, for example, you only get references to Lerman on this forum. In the search box, however, you can choose "More Search Options," which brings you to ANOTHER box. Type "Lerman" there and you'll find references from the entire Board.

I had many disappointing results before I learned this trick.

If you "uncheck" the "Search This Forum Only" checkbox from "Search" on the menu at the top of the page, the engine will search the entire site.

Edited to add: To be clearer, the "Search this forum only" checkbox appears if you are in a forum. Clicking "Search" from the home page searches the entire site, and the checkbox will not appear.

#8 bart

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 11:52 AM

:blush: Helene, now that you point it out, it IS obvious. And clear. Apologies again. Haste, as they say, makes waste, especially for those of us who click before reading all the options. :blush:

#9 Helene

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 11:59 AM

It's another feature that changes depending on context -- for example, when typing this post, the checkbox does not appear -- but when navigation around, who's keeping track of that?

I tried to find out how to make the default "unchecked" but to no avail :blush:

#10 Neryssa

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:56 PM

I received the Leo Lerman book for Christmas and starting it has been a little daunting for me. I've begun it a few times and then drifted to other books. Thanks for the suggestion to start by reading about the people that are of interest to me. I'll try that.


I finally found the Lerman book at a bookstore recently. I skimmed the index for choreographers and dancers but had to stop and reshelf it after reading his brief description of Tanaquil Le Clercq [physically] in 1984. I do not think he was trying to be unkind but it was upsetting to me... Although I began to loathe the index examination, I dislike books without indexes, so there is no pleasing me.

Anyway, IMO, it is the not the type of diary that sustains a narrative such as Sylvia Plath's "Unabridged Journals." But that is another book, writer and subject entirely-

Off-topic: I found myself also skimming Julie Andrews' autobiography and I was pleased to read her lovely description(s) of Svetlana Beriosova. Andrews' book ends when her film career begins and I am already hoping for a sequel.

Neryssa


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