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"Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins"

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Browsing the small dance section of my local bookstore looking for something new is usually dull and futile, but this afternoon, as if in a dream, I found a big fat (688 pages) new volume entitled "Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins," by one Amanda Vail.

The photographs include 3 sequence shots of Robbins and Janet Reed rehearsing "Fancy Free," poignant shots of Tanaquil LeClerq taken by Robbins after her paralysis, and an earlier, likewise poignant head shot he took where her face is half in shadow.

The book is currently on sale for one third off on Amazon.com. Use of the link above helps this site.

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kfw, thank you for the heads up -- I didn't even know this book was coming.

I better get off the Internet fast -- one of today's topics on an opera list I belong was "singer biography recommendations," and this is the third book order I placed today. (And my credit card is whimpering.)

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a friend noted that a bookstore on manhattan's upper-eastside (not sure which) held a signing for vail's book on tues. just prior, as it turned out, to the opening of nycb's winter season.

i didn't hear how it went.

i ran into vail at one point and asked if she had good illus. for her FANCY FREE section - i had just acquired a few good photos of the ballet showing variously, robbins, kriza and reed - vail said she had a good number of really good ones.

i hope some have made their way into the book. i know she had the cooperation of the robbins trust.

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Isn't this sort of the companion to Jowitt's bio on Robbins? The trust allowed Jowitt to write about Robbins' work and Vail was to write about his personal life. Too bad it didn't get the publicity the first book received.

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Here's more information, from the Amazon site. I've underlined the comparisosn with Jowett.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Robbins (1918–1998) was the choreographic genius behind the 1957 Broadway hit West Side Story and other musical classics, in addition to such great ballets as Fancy Free and Dances at a Gathering. Vaill (Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story) was given unprecedented access to Robbins's personal papers after his death, and the result is a critically sophisticated biography that's as compulsively readable as a novel. As she traverses Robbins's growth as an artist, his ambivalence about his Jewish heritage, his bisexuality and his relationships with other artists from Balanchine, to Bernstein to Baryshnikov, she writes with both passion and compassion. More than Deborah Jowitt in her recent Robbins bio, Vaill delves into Robbins's personal life, quoting frequently from his diary and letters. But the result isn't salacious; rather, it allows a more vibrant and vital rendering of the man. Known for being very harsh on dancers, Robbins was called everything from "genius and difficult to tyrant and sadist," says Vaill, "yet the work... was marked by an ineffable sweetness and tenderness." In her balanced, sensitive portrait of an American theatrical genius, Vaill captures these contradictions elegantly. The book is essential reading for lovers of theater and dance. (Nov. 21)

I remember the book on the Murphys. It was well done, but not overly concerned with analysing the work of those artists this famously social couple were involved with. Jowett, I thought, had quite a good deal of stuff about character, relationships, sex, and social fabric. I'm looking forward to see how Vail addresses the balance of art and life.

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I'm not sure I'm ready for the third 600-page biography of Robbins in five years. (The first was "Dancing with Demons," by Greg Lawrence, which came out in 2001, three years before Jowitt's.) Just how "compulsively readable" can this new one be? As far as I'm concerned, the point of telling me more on the subject than I want to know has already been passed. Meanwhile, a comprehensive biography of Balanchine remains to be written.

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Meanwhile, a comprehensive biography of Balanchine remains to be written.

Here's the old thread discussing the long-promised Arlene Croce biography

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...hl=arlene+croce

Don't be deceived by the publisher's original promise of a 2007 release. The last word, from Perky, was that they told her that the book would not be published until early 2008 !!

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I'm not sure I'm ready for the third 600-page biography of Robbins in five years. (The first was "Dancing with Demons," by Greg Lawrence, which came out in 2001, three years before Jowitt's.) Just how "compulsively readable" can this new one be? As far as I'm concerned, the point of telling me more on the subject than I want to know has already been passed. Meanwhile, a comprehensive biography of Balanchine remains to be written.

I agree (although I'll read the new one, of course). However, I suppose neither of the earlier books could be characterized as definitive in spite of the bloat that afflicted both volumes IMO, so there may be more to be said.

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It's very readable -- I'm 100 pages into it, finding out some things.

Jowitt's was I thought a great overview -- she stayed very well-balanced, and it seemed that later books would fill in where she wisely sought not to tread.

This one is engaging, but there are passages where she goes pretty superficial. It doesn't stay that way, but it can be pretty Noel Coward-ish; lots of name dropping when that doesn't seem appropriate -- lists of books he was reading -- Faulkner's "Light in August," "Brothers Karamazov" get thrown about as if they were visits to Sardi's. I found myself wondering if she'd read Faulkner or Dostoyevsky herself, if she knew what that felt like; can't tell for sure, maybe she's just packing a lot of material into a short space, but it's pretty breezy -- what happened at his draft physical? She gives some details, but I don't think she has a feel for it.

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I'm not sure I'm ready for the third 600-page biography of Robbins in five years.

Exactly how I felt---but I went ahead and read the new book. Now I am sure I wasn't 'ready' for it. More than I care to know about his sex life and angst. I will NEVER read another Robbins biography. :dry:

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For those who have read the three bios, advise me, please, which is the best reading for one approaching for the first time Robbins' life?

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Grissi, I think they all have their strong and weak points. (I confess I didn't have the stamina to read Vaill's book from cover to cover.) If you have to choose only one for an introduction to Robbins, I would definitely say Jowitt.

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Please tell us about it when you do read it, Grissi. :)

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