Helene

"Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear"

74 posts in this topic

That is correct, the Kindle version is much cheaper! (€7.7 today for $10!)

Helene, that is interesting! I did not know that one does not have to buy the Kindle to read the books. I had not planned on acquiring yet another piece of electronic gadgetry, just yet, so being able to read things on my computer would be great!

Thank you for the information!

I will look into that.

-d-

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I just "ran into" a couple of sentences in the book that sheds more light on this union thing as it relates to the Monte Carlo stager's surprise at how the "rules" work when they staged Maillot's R&J at PNB. At the end of the chapter 41, entitled "Juliet on the Fence", Manes says:

On the other hand, there are no unions at Ballets de Monte-Carlo. The dancers can be asked to work seven days a week or until two in the morning. Often they don’t know where they’ll be touring until a couple of months before it happens.

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I recently, finally read the portion of the book dealing with Carla Korbes. She very candidly spoke about her depression related to her weight and her job. This aspect has not really been addressed in many places. I wondered if she was a very open person, or if this openness related to cultural norms in her native country. She seems to be a very strong person.

I read with interest her discussion about being kept out of performances by Martins due to her weight, and being cast whenever she lowered her weight. Has she received any notoriety in response to this, such as Mary Garrett (Mariafrancesca Garritano of La Scala) or Sophie Flack? Actually, Sophie's narrator in Bunheads seems to have had an almost identical experience in a white leotard ballet, although a ballet mistress instructed her to lose the weight to avoid being taken out of the ballet.

She received Danilova's shoes and her bequest in the form of a scholarship. She must be very special to see in person.

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I just "ran into" a couple of sentences in the book that sheds more light on this union thing as it relates to the Monte Carlo stager's surprise at how the "rules" work when they staged Maillot's R&J at PNB. At the end of the chapter 41, entitled "Juliet on the Fence", Manes says:

On the other hand, there are no unions at Ballets de Monte-Carlo. The dancers can be asked to work seven days a week or until two in the morning. Often they don’t know where they’ll be touring until a couple of months before it happens.

Why did Noe join MC?

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Also, dumb question, maybe, but why the silence over not eating? One assumes a very thin person, under pressure to maintain a certain physical appearance, does not consume much.... Was it a secret at the time that Mr. B limited his wife Tallchief's supper?

Another interesting fact noted by Korbes - that NYCB wanted certain body types, in which dancers had "boy bodies", with slim hips, etc.

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Carla Korbes.......She seems to be a very strong person.

I've met Carla many times in non-ballet settings, and my impression is indeed that she is a very strong person. She is also elegant (her clothes can be spectacular), and she seems willing to go well out of her way to encourage and assist young dancers.....even the very youngest.

Why did Noe join MC?

This is covered more or less in the book. I would say it was not a simple decision......it had many components to it. Part of it definitely had to do with her having been inspired to work with the genius that is Mailloit; part the allure of living in Europe; part her either the real or imagined perceptions of her position in the hierarchy of principal dancers and possible favoritism practiced by management.

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From Dance Magazine January 2009:

http://dancemagazine...uropean-Dreamin

For former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Noelani Pantastico, now a recent émigré to Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, the opportunity to follow artistic director Jean-Christophe Maillot and repeat her stunning success as Juliet (which she debuted with PNB last year) in Europe was the chance of a lifetime. “A lot of people think Maillot stole me or that I was unhappy with PNB,” says Pantastico, 28. “But my main motivation for leaving was to feel growth as a dancer and as a human being.” The choreographer chose Pantastico to perform the heroine role on opening night of the Monte Carlo’s Les Nuits de la Danse. Pantastico, who joined the company as a soloist, refers to her first month in Monaco as “magical,” and that opening night in July as a dream come true.

And the February 2012 edition:

http://dancemagazine.com/issues/February-2012/Dance-Matters-A-Winning-Hand

Its 48 dancers are an international group, with one former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal among them: Noelani Pantastico, who fell in love with Maillot’s choreography when PNB performed hisRoméo et Juliette. She joined in 2008 and relishes the pace. “The atmosphere is very relaxed,” she says. “Jean-Christophe is constantly refreshing the pieces we dance. It’s never the same.”

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Yes, I could be setting a record with how long I am taking to get through this book, and my questions may be answered later in the book, but I am a bit dumbfounded at times, and curious at others, so I am posing this question now, impatiently, instead of finishing the book first (which I may decide not to do...).

Mere chapters after discussing the drama, excitement. and opportunity afforded to Noe in Maillot's "R&J", and her triumph, the author discussed Casey Herd, Lucien P., and Noe P. considering leaving PNB. One issue considered in leaving is having nothing left to stay for or no reason to stay. This is an incredible jump. The men received the promotions they desired. Noe seemed poised for stardom or golden status. Even with other, maybe favored principal dancers in the company, opportunities existed, did they not? I am not saying no reason to leave existed, and on balance, for many reasons, one may have chosen to leave, but but did they have no reason to stay? I think I am missing something.

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They don't have to have no reason to stay: they just have to have more reasons to go than to stay.

Aside from any personal reasons, why wouldn't a young dancer want an opportunity to dance in Europe, especially when a choreographer and his stagers showed personal interest in that dancer? Boal, who was one of the most appreciated young dancers by the audience, left NYCB early in his career to dance in France. Boal isn't Balanchine, who, when dancers left to "do their 'Giselle's", moved on and wouldn't take them back. People make careers in all sorts of ways, and some, like Pantastico and Jodie Thomas, who left for RDB a few years after the season described in the book, were lucky to have spouses who could work in/from Europe. It sounds like a great adventure to me, even with all of the opportunities at PNB.

More specifically, Manes describes how Pantastico felt she'd always be second to Korbes, the way [every other dancer] was second to Patricia Barker in the last 15 years or so of Russell/Stowell era, and during part of that, there were more performances. If you remember, the stagers insisted on giving Korbes five performances of the eight originally scheduled, and Pantastico three. Manes reports that Boal was unhappy about this, and the reason a ninth performances was added, was to try to even it up a bit. (That was without the pregnant Vinson in the mix.) It's up to each dancer to decide how to interpret this.

I remember a Q&A in Boal's first year with Pantastico in which Pantastico, like many dancers before her and many dancers after her, spoke about Russell and Stowell as "Mom and Dad", and the atmosphere in the company was very different under Boal. She also said, bluntly, that (paraphrase) if Boal didn't give her what she wanted to dance, she wouldn't stay, with him sitting three feet away. She studied at CPYB and wasn't one of the 1/3 or so of the company who had trained with him at SAB or danced with him, and her loyalty for nurturing her and growing her career within the company was to Russell and Stowell.

Postlewaite was in a relationship with Olivier Wevers, now his husband, and Wevers is European. I don't know either of them, but I would guess that being in Europe near Wevers' family and many of their European friends would be very appealing. Who wouldn't consider it? As it turned out, weren't enough reasons for him to leave.

From Q&A's Herd always struck me as a restless sort. Amsterdam is a fine city, Dutch National Ballet has a great rep -- they premiered "A Million Kisses to My Skin" and the Ratmansky "Don Quixote" -- they have the kind of $$$ to spend $3million on "Don Quixote", and they offered him a Principal contract. It's hard to argue with that.

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From Q&A's Herd always struck me as a restless sort.

I got that same impression from him at Q&As (well before that season).

Also, as I remember, Lucien's explosion of talent and artistry was just starting at that time. Perhaps he was even less aware of where he was headed than we were. He was always a good dancer, but starting right about that time, he took off like a shot out of cannon to become IMO the best male dancer in the company......certainly the most artistic male dancer. None of that was probably obvious at the time.

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At end of her review of PNB's NY season preview at the Guggenheim's "Work & Process" series Marina Harss recommended this book:

And if, like Boal, you don’t like to come to a performance unprepared, I recommend perusing the recent book Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear, an almost obsessively-detailed fly-on-the-wall account of PNB’s inner workings as observed by Stephen Manes, a technology reporter and author of a biography of Bill Gates who shadowed the company for over a year. If nothing else, the detailed biographical sketch of Peter Boal in its opening pages is well worth the price. It explains a lot about how this understated, almost fastidious man—a beautiful dancer—has come to be such a strong leader for this company

It's also been released in paperback, as well as being available in hardcover and several electronic formats (for Nook, Kindle, etc.).

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I read the sample for this book on my kindle app...and I loved it! I can't wait to get the full version! It has a lot of great information and is a very enjoyable (and educational) read. I highly recommend for people who are "on the fence" about this book!

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I jumped the gun: it's just now been release in paperback: the holidays are just around the corner.

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I'm in the midst of this book, which I find entertaining, enlightening, and very, very frustrating. It seems like the author followed the company for a year, taking notes (or recording?) everything, then just published it all with no editing whatsoever. There are endless (and I do mean endless!) accounts of rehearsals with dancers grimacing, laughing, and being given notes; endless lengthy quotations from dancers and staff, rambling, unfocused, ungrammatical, and with no editorial comment whatsoever. Quel mess!!! There is so much interesting information scattered about, about dancers and the backstage workings of a major ballet company, that I wish it had been cut to something like half -- or less -- of the current length and given some authorial/editorial commentary and a major, major overhaul for focus.

I have only taken a look at the sampling Amazon allows you, but this was my sense, Cobweb. This kind of subject/writing is right up my alley, but I simply don't have the kind of time/attention span required to embark upon such a long journey. Would LOVE to see a condensed version of this book. But, as someone pointed out, that is often a facet of self-publishing. No editor cruelly told the writer to "knock off 200 pages; just do it." Writers hate to do that, hate to hear that (I'm a writer, with painful first-hand experience of this). But it always makes the book better.

Some day my work load will lighten up, and I will nonetheless look forward to reading this book!

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The manuscript was cut down substantially before it was published.

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The author has substantial experience, with several book projects as well as newspaper work, so he knows what it is to be edited. And he did cut his original manuscript back pretty extensively. He had extraordinary access for this project to all kinds of things -- he mentions somewhere that he attended board meetings that the artistic director was not a part of. The impression I got was that he was so interested in all aspects of the work, he just didn't know what he could leave out.

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He did leave a substantial amount out, though. What he published was a broad look at just about all of the workings of a ballet company, taking each aspect as seriously as the rest, and giving equal due to the business, artistic, Board, and backstage elements.

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Although it's a very long read, it does give a really comprehensive look at the institution. I came away from it feeling that if I needed to build a snow machine for my backyard, I knew what to do!

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Get the book, it's a thick book - but the reading is fairly speedy because the writing is in the style of a magazine, it's not dense reading. This isn't War & Peace. It's engrossing and by the end you'll feel a sense of appreciation for all the paddling that goes on underwater to make the swans look like they are gliding above it (so to speak).

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I wish someone would do this sort of book for American Ballet Theatre. I'd love to know how decisions are made about whom to hire and whom to promote.

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Get the book, it's a thick book - but the reading is fairly speedy because the writing is in the style of a magazine, it's not dense reading. This isn't War & Peace. It's engrossing and by the end you'll feel a sense of appreciation for all the paddling that goes on underwater to make the swans look like they are gliding above it (so to speak).

It's not dense, but it is exhaustive. Not having seen and therefore having a clear mental picture of most of the company's dancers,I sometimes tired of all the rehearsal descriptions, even though I read the book little by little before bedtime. Still, that's my problem. All that history is there for anyone who wants it. I'm sorry Manes had to cut it down.

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Okay, you all have convinced me. I just bit the bullet and bought it on Amazon. (Paperback, versus electronic, which might ultimately win me over.)

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The most in depth behind the scenes look you will ever get about a ballet company. You love it as long as you have really, really always wanted to know.

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