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New Book about an NYCB corps member-- and Jerome RobbinsThe Cage by Barbara Bocher


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#1 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:15 AM

A review in "Broadway World" about "The Cage" by Barbara Bocher, who danced with the Company in it's early days, 1949 to 1954. Though she had a good relationship with Mr. B., and progressed in her career, she felt she was badly mistreated by Mr. Robbins. She was the youngest member of the Company at 14.

http://books.broadwa...Darius-20121215

#2 kfw

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:47 PM

Thanks, ViolinConcerto. I downloaded the Kindle sample, much of which is about the making of The Cage, and Robbins' brutal, "army camp behavior" which "skirted the borders of torture," and what a shock the violent sexual nature of the ballet was to a 14-year old girl in 1950.

Robbins' ugly temper is well known, and it's easy to understand why Bocher was traumatized. But it's a shame she and her co-author write in a melodramatic and emotionally overblown manner, in clichéd and purple prose full of grammatical errors and words they don't understand the meaning of. I won't be buying the book.

#3 dirac

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

I sampled the book via Amazon's text search function and while some of the prose is certainly empurpled it looks on that basis to be worth the time of anyone interested in the subject. Reasonably priced, as well. I've placed my order and will report back in this space.

#4 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:56 PM

Thanks, ViolinConcerto. I downloaded the Kindle sample, much of which is about the making of The Cage, and Robbins' brutal, "army camp behavior" which "skirted the borders of torture," and what a shock the violent sexual nature of the ballet was to a 14-year old girl in 1950.

Robbins' ugly temper is well known, and it's easy to understand why Bocher was traumatized. But it's a shame she and her co-author write in a melodramatic and emotionally overblown manner, in clichéd and purple prose full of grammatical errors and words they don't understand the meaning of. I won't be buying the book.



I agree about the writing, but in a way, it's appropriate as it conveys what she must have felt like. She seems to have come from a very sheltered background. Her mother (I think) was with her as a ballet mom should be with such "a very young ballerina."

#5 kfw

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 07:37 PM

I agree about the writing, but in a way, it's appropriate as it conveys what she must have felt like.



That’s a good point. Then again, I’m not sure why at age 77 she feels the needs to quote the First Amendment - or rather the First Amendment as originally proposed - in defense of having written the book. Anyhow, I look forward to what you and dirac think when you've finished it.

#6 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 07:57 PM

Oh Gosh, I'm so behind..... don't let me keep you waiting. I did read the bits that Amazon left around for us as temptations....that's why I made that judgement of her having come from a sheltered background.

Enjoy !

#7 LiLing

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 11:21 AM

I just finished reading this book. It is very poorly written. I don't know anything about the process of publishing a book, but shouldn't an editor correct grammar and sentences that make no sense?

Jerome Robbins is well known for abusing dancers, and we have all heard stories of his out of control temper. I was still shocked by Ms Bocher's experience. She was only fourteen when she joined NYCB, and became a target of his sadistic attacks.

While I can understand the author's motivation for writing this book, it makes me sad to see one more negative book about life in the professional dance world.

#8 California

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 12:02 PM

I just finished reading this book. It is very poorly written. I don't know anything about the process of publishing a book, but shouldn't an editor correct grammar and sentences that make no sense?


It appears that it was a self-publishing venture: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
https://www.createsp...204&utm_id=6029

You can find out the publisher under "publisher details" on the Amazon page:
http://www.amazon.co...the cage bocher

#9 Neryssa

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:57 PM

I finished the book over the holidays. It was poorly written, I agree - or rather, it was not well edited - if at all. I agree that Bocher has a right to be angry about the horrible way Robbins treated her but she is also bitter that Balanchine did not ask Robbins to change his behavior. In the final part of her book Bocher criticizes Balanchine's ballets as being soulless which I thought was unfair. She also writes some questionable things about how Balanchine treated Maria Tallchief when he was obsessed with Tanaquil Le Clercq. I don't know, I wasn't there but did Balanchine humiliate Tallchief during the early-mid-1950s? Did he not continue to choreograph works for her after their annulment (such as Scotch Symphony?). A strange book. Bocher obviously has regrets about not continuing her career and seems to blame Robbins and Balanchine for not allowing her to fulfill her potential as a dancer.

#10 canbelto

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

Well, from everything I know about Balanchine his sense of propriety was overwhelming and one of the things that he allowed Robbins to do was to pick the dancers Robbins wanted, and to give Robbins free rein in terms of rehearsal space and time.

Some dancers claimed to like Robbins' extremely, uh, demanding approach to creating works. They said it brought out the best in them. Others obviously couldn't take it, and there's a story of a cast hating him so much they let him fall into the orchestra pit once by accident without warning him he was about to fall over.

#11 Neryssa

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:14 PM

Some dancers claimed to like Robbins' extremely, uh, demanding approach to creating works. They said it brought out the best in them. Others obviously couldn't take it, and there's a story of a cast hating him so much they let him fall into the orchestra pit once by accident without warning him he was about to fall over.


Are you saying that some dancers liked his screaming and expletives? Bocher is referring to verbal abuse and harassment. I think Balanchine more than proved that dancers could be challenged with gentle, calm instruction.

#12 canbelto

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:27 PM


Are you saying that some dancers liked his screaming and expletives? Bocher is referring to verbal abuse and harassment. I think Balanchine more than proved that dancers could be challenged with gentle, calm instruction.


I'm not saying they liked it. But there were many dancers who said that they thought it was part of his creative process, to be extremely critical and brutal in order to "break" a dancer and then mold him. Some dancers could handle working with him, others couldn't.

#13 sandik

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:48 PM

My copy came today, and I haven't really started reading, but after a quick flip through the text does feel kind of ... sticky.

#14 Neryssa

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:07 PM

I think it is a pathetic and archaic notion to think that a choreographer or artist in general must be a screaming maniac in order to choreograph, paint or compose. Robbins abused his authority; it is as simple as that. It should not have mattered that Bocher was young, sheltered or not able to tough it out. I think it's sad that many people still think Robbins' behavior was acceptable or justifiable in the name of his art.

#15 Helene

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:35 PM

I think enough people who know about Robbins also know enough about Balanchine to realize that you don't need to be a screaming maniac to be a great artist.

The main people who've thought that Robbins' behavior was acceptable or justifiable -- i.e. worth the trade-off -- are the dancers who went on record to say so.


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