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Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection Hardcover – 16 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Greystone Books (16 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926812662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926812663
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 641,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Van der Walt on 7 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. My sympathy has always been with the ballerinas since their careers are in many respects so short. Totally manipulated by so many .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Required reading for all those girls considering a professional ballet career as well as for all male ballet directors around the world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An interesting read 26 Oct. 2013
By Brian St John - Published on
Verified Purchase
This book owes much to Jennifer Homans', "Apollo's Angels," which is a significantly more exhaustive and broad-ranging history of ballet, that occasionally references the ballerina/concubine occupational conflation that has occurred throughout history. Deirdre Kelley doesn't hide the fact that she owes a measure of tribute to Homans' book; she periodically quotes from it.

Kelley's intent with this book seems to be the expansion of the tantalizing tidbits that Homans leaves when referring to the ballerina/concubine culture, at least initially. The first half of Kelley's book reads, at best, like "Apollo's Angels" light, and at worst, if one wants to think of it that way, like a tabloid gossip column.

The second half of the book, however, reads quite differently. Kelley unleashes an oddly venomous and vitriolic sequence of chapters attacking modern day ballet company life. Did you know that George Balanchine is solely responsible for the outbreak of anorexia and bulimia among ballerinas? According to Kelley, he is. In addition to sharing her anger at Balanchine, and Balanchine as Artistic Director almost exclusively, Kelley devotes a tremendous volume of words addressing ballet company labor relations in Canada and the USA. Truth is, ballet company life is generally awful in the USA and Kelley takes time to point that out. (Time and again second-tier ballet companies harvest young dancers from their summer programs as "trainees" to fill out the corps and often pay them nothing for the privilege. Then, after a year or two they dismiss the young unpaid ballerinas and find a new crop of slave labor from their summer program.)

If you are seeking a more thorough historical read, I recommend Homans' book. This book is an interesting read, depending on which half of the book appeals to your taste more.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Read 17 Nov. 2012
By Jacqueline Wilson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book that not only describes with brutal honestly the reality of what goes on behind the stage in ballet, but also helps the ballerina of today understand herself and the reason she is how she is. This book goes back to the very beginnings of ballet and shows how the culture of the early Renaissance and King Louis XIV have stayed in the culture of ballet and affect the view women in the ballet world. I believe this book is important in ending the self-sabotaging behavior of ballerinas because it helps them understand the roots of where they come from and why they are the way they are.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book !! 3 Dec. 2012
By Ballet43 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being former dancer , I found this book so intersting . The detail history that she tells of ballet is so amazing . The book also show the love , hate and sometimes dysfunctional relationship we as dancers can sometimes have with art itself . I loved that she talks about the hopes and changes that are happening in the world of ballet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
None 21 Oct. 2012
By S. Greene - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I was spellbound by this book which takes us from ballet's early days through to modern day ballet by means of historical facts, helpful organization of ballet eras and significant but non-intrusive commentary. Quotes from those in the world of ballet are also quite interesting, particularly the most recent as we know first-hand who the speakers are. The author does an excellent job of presenting the significant issues that existed in the world of ballet from the time of Louis XIV to the present day. It was an education and a pleasure to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly entertaining and serious at the same time. 5 July 2013
By Maria Cristina - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent historical research and fascinating as it is easy to read. Did not agree with some assertions like blaming Balanchine for the anorexia in the ballet world in the 20th century as this is a problem in other fields too, like modeling in the Fashion industry where Balanchine had no influence.
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