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Zelda Fitzgerald and ballet

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A new piece  on Zelda Fitzgerald's involvement with ballet in The New Yorker by Meryl Cates.


Zelda’s infatuation with ballet can be traced to that summer, in 1925, when she began lessons in Paris with the great Russian ballerina Lubov Egorova. Afterward, travel kept the Fitzgeralds away from Paris until 1928. During that time, Zelda continued to train several days a week, in Philadelphia, while they rented a home in Delaware, but the discipline that drove her upon her return to France is remarkable. Egorova’s studio in Paris was a hive of the most talented dancers of the time.


Zelda also wrote a good first novel, "Save Me the Waltz."

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Zelda Fitzgerald was also a pretty good novelist and diaryist – good enough that Scott Fitzgerald borrowed sections of her journals for "Tender is the Night."


Not sure if "Save Me the Waltz" is in print or not.  San Francisco Library has one tattered copy. From Google Books:




Swirling round and round like an exercise in penmanship, Alabama threaded the line through the spots of light.


“But you are like Madame!” said Madame Sirgeva. “We were at the Imperial School together in Russia. It was I who taught her her entrechats, though she never did them properly. Mes enfants! There are four count to a quatre-temps, please, p–l–e–a–a–s–e!”


Alabama clamorously dropped her person bit by bit into the ballet like pieces dropped through a mechanical piano.


The girls were unlike the Russians. Their necks were dirty and they came to the theatre with paper bags filled with thick sandwiches. They ate garlic; they were fatter than the Russians and their legs were shorter; they danced with bent knees and their Italian-silk tights crinkled over their dimples.



Diaghilev died. The stuff of the great movement of the Ballet Russe lay rotting in a French law court – he had never been able to make money.


Some of his dancers performed around the swimming pool at the Lido to please drunk Americans in summer; some of the worked in music-hall ballets; the English went back to England. The transparent music-hall celluloid decor of La Chatte that had stabbed its audience with silver swords from the spotlights of Paris and Monte Carlo, London and Berlin lay marked “No Smoking” in a damp, ratty warehouse by the Seine, locked in a stone tunnel where a gray light from the river sloshed over the dark, dripping earth and over the moist curving bottom.


Edited by Quiggin

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Thanks, Quiggin. I forgot to mention that SMTW deals with ballet.  I see by Amazon that the paperback copy I picked up from a bin many moons ago for a couple of bucks is now selling for double digits.


Scott also dipped into Zelda's diaries for earlier work like "The Beautiful and Damned," causing Zelda to joke that her husband seemed to think that plagiarism began at home.

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