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Recommended autobiographies/biographies

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Although it's been mentioned several times, I must second Allegra Kent's Once a Dancer. Ms. Kent gives a fascinating account of her fascinating life, but it's the quality of her writing that makes it stand above all others (IMO). The book goes beyond the genre of "dancer's autobiography."

Some time I ago I read/skimmed an autobiography that I had never heard of before. I promptly forgot the title, but it was written by a woman who trained in San Francisco (Suki Schorer was her best friend and fellow student), went to NYC to dance for Mr. B., and quit ballet some time afterwards. Does this sound familiar to any one? It was an interesting read, but obviously not all that memorable. :clapping:

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Are you thinking of "The Unmaking of a Dancer?" That's the one book I wouldn't recommend to a young dance student! (She's very bitter about the dance world, as I remember it, but kept auditioning for things, being chosen, and then walking out.)

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Yes, I think it was indeed The Unmaking of a Dancer. No, I wouldn't recommend it to dance students either, but not knowing the title was bothering me a bit so I thought I would ask.

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I also read that one, but in German translation, so I didn't know what the English title was. Certainly not an inspiring book, but a useful one for people who think ballet is all glitter and glamour!

Thanks again for all the recommendations - where is one most likely to be able to order these books via internet? Amazon? The trouble is that many of them are not easily available in South Africa, especially the newer publications.

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Amazon has several international sites, too; you'll find them at the bottom of the www.amazon.com home page (or click the link at the top of the site). I don't think they have one in South Africa, but they do have U.K., France and Germany, and shipping might be cheaper there. It's worth a try. (I think Amazon will ship anywhere, but haven't tried it.)

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I actually liked "The Unmaking of a Dancer." She does take a jaded view in some respects, but not in others, and she has some interesting things to say and writes very well. I thought of that book the other day when Cartier-Bresson’s death was in the papers – she was in class the day he came in to take those wonderful photographs of Balanchine, and she wasn’t impressed with his M.O. (she was nineteen) – until the pictures came out. However, as mentioned, it’s not a book for young readers, it’s for adults.

Brady has written an interesting novel, “Theory of War,” which is a very different work, but readers of both books will recognize certain autobiographical themes.

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1.) Misha: The Mikhail Baryshnikov Story

Comment: I read this quickly. It was interesting to me. Afterwards I rented the video 'The Childen of Theater Street' to see what that was all about.

2.) Holding onto the Air (Farrell)

Comment: I read this after I saw the docudrama on Dance in America. Like carbro says, honest and moving.

3.) Ballerina bio of Violette Verdy by Huckenpahler

Comment: I didn't finish it. I was busy during the time I had the book loaned out but it is interesting in how she learned her craft : choosing teachers and which opportunities to work eventually. Eventually, I think I'll return to it.

4.) Dancing for Balanchine by Ashley

Comment: Answered alot of questions I had about what it was like to dance in NYCB in its heyday. Contrasts to 'Holding on to the Air' in that she sucks up to Martins a bit:)

5.) Far from Denmark by Martins

Comment: In progress. Its moving quickly.

6.) Goofy Lookin': A Portrait of - - - - - * - - - - - -

Comment: Forthcoming.

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Thanks again for all the recommendations - where is one most likely to be able to order these books via internet? Amazon? The trouble is that many of them are not easily available in South Africa, especially the newer publications.

Most dance books go out of print quickly. However the best way to get a good hardcover copy of the books discussed here is to go to a big used & remaindered books site and do some happy hunting. I'm linking the US site, but there's also a uk affiliate.

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Once a Dancer was pretty enjoyable - I liked it, but it wasn't terribly special. I don't know why.

Both of Gelsey Kirkland's books were interesting, but I enjoyed the second a lot more. The first, she definitely wasn't far from having been almost completely unhinged, so it while it was fascinating, it was quite a downer. The second autobiography she wrote was focused on how she developed a role. It was FASCINATING.

I, Maya Plisetskaya was a slow book to start, but it was fantastic once I got into it. Infinitely interesting. And yes ... she definitely wrote it herself. :)

Autobiography by Margot Fonteyn ... I just wasn't interested! I kept trying and trying and trying again to read it, and it kept putting me to sleep.

I only was able to read part of Split Seconds by Tamara Geva, but I'd definitely recommend it. Great read.

Dancing for Balanchine by Merrill Ashley was most interesting when she talked about technique. I could have done with less photographs of steps, but ahh well. All right, but not the most talentest of authors.

Prodigal Son by Edward Villela was fabulous. I don't know why, but it was very enjoyable.

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Any word/feedback on Robert Gottlieb's new one, George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker ? Just received an "Amazon.com alert" that says it was just published on Oct. 26, 2004. I haven't been keeping up very well lately, so sorry if I missed any discussion about this earlier/elsewhere. Thanks!

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Any word/feedback on Robert Gottlieb's new one, George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker ?  Just received an "Amazon.com alert" that says it was just published on Oct. 26, 2004.  I haven't been keeping up very well lately, so sorry if I missed any discussion about this earlier/elsewhere. Thanks!

It's in the stores, along with Terry Teachout's Balanchine book. Last week I received the pre-order I placed through Barnes and Noble's website

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Does anyone know where I can purchase Violette Verdy's "Ballerina"?

Thank you.

Have you tried the used book places? www.alibris.com

or (I think the URL is)

www.allbooks.com

I've ordered from both places quite happily.

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Also, if you live in an area with plenty of stores selling used books, as I have the good fortune to do, it pays to check the shelves regularly. I missed out on a copy of "Ballerina" years ago -- can't remember now why I decided not to buy it -- and have been kicking myself ever since. The stores often give you a better deal on the book, too. I purchased a great copy of "Repertory in Review" by Nancy Reynolds for thirty dollars, and it sells for a good deal more than that on the Web.

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