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"Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear"Inside the Land of Ballet


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#61 Helene

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:27 PM

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.).

#62 Pinkgemstone

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:15 PM

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!

#63 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:47 PM

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

#64 Terez

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:45 AM

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!

#65 Helene

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:02 AM

The manuscript was cut down substantially before it was published.

#66 sandik

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:59 AM

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.

#67 Helene

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:03 AM

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.

#68 sandik

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:30 AM

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!

#69 Jayne

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 04:11 PM

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).

#70 angelica

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 04:30 PM

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.

#71 kfw

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 06:46 PM

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.

#72 Terez

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 08:43 AM

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.)

#73 SandyMcKean

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 01:25 PM

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.

#74 Jayne

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:02 PM

This is an excerpt from the book, if you're trying to decide whether to buy it or not:

http://www.dancestud...sonality-cults/


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