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on 20 September 2015
I'm a huge fan of the Ballet Russes and of Alicia Markova, so this seemed like the perfect book for me. And I did greatly enjoy it. Tina Sutton not only provides beautiful stories and information about Markova, but also about her friends, family and social circle. She also makes excellent use of sources and quotations, something that one does not always find in biographies.

However, I was really sad to see that Sutton sometimes seemed to think it necessary to be more than a little dismissive and sometimes downright rude about other acclaimed dancers who were working at the same time as Markova, or a little later. Because Anna Pavlova and Alicia Markova have been compared so much, Sutton appeared to believe that pointing out how Markova could be seen as a better person than Pavlova (eg. Pavlova was cripplingly shy and antisocial, a fact which Sutton, in true American fashion, seems to find deeply upsetting) would aid her underlying argument that Markova is the best thing that ever happened to ballet, when no reader in their right minds want to read what quickly becomes a Eurovision Dance Contest. I love Markova; I greatly admire her dancing and her character, but I found this attitude made me almost want to dislike her, and it became something of a battle to love her as she deserves. Another dancer who is repeatedly ridiculed is Margot Fonteyn, who I adore and was sad to see being treated in such a manner. Pavlova, Markova and Fonteyn all did a great deal for ballet and I love all of them; I wish Tina Sutton could see that by bashing Pavlova and Fonteyn, she detracts from the reader's feelings for Markova.

Despite that rather long rant, I do still recommend the book, as it is crammed full of fascinating titbits. Just, take it with a pinch of salt when Sutton writes about dancers other than Markova.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 18 November 2014
World-famous ballerina, Alicia Markova, was not Russian as her adopted name suggests, but British, and was born Lilian Alicia Marks into a Jewish family in England in 1910, the same year that the legendary Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, made her first appearance on the London Stage. A shy, frail child with flat feet, knock knees and weak legs, Alicia started ballet lessons when her mother, an ardent ballet fan, was advised that learning to dance might help strengthen Alicia's legs and feet. Alicia took to ballet lessons with application and enthusiasm, and she was soon surprising her teachers and fellow students with her astonishing talent, earning herself the title of 'The Child Pavlova'. In fact, by the age of fourteen, her dancing skills were so impressive that when Sergei Diaghilev saw her dance, she was accepted into the Ballets Russes as his 'baby ballerina' - the youngest ever dancer to be offered a place in the renowned ballet company.

At the Ballets Russes, Alicia received music tutelage from Igor Stravinsky; she took dance lessons with ballet master, Enrico Cecchetti; she worked with choreographer, George Ballanchine, and had her costumes designed by Henri Matisse; and through a combination of natural talent and very hard work, she began to develop a technical brilliance that soon had her winning solo roles and the respect and envy of those in the dancing world. Tiny in stature (as an adult dancer she sometimes struggled to maintain seven stones in weight) and with size 2.5 feet (all of her ballet shoes had to be made specially for her), Alicia Markova seemed to defy gravity, as she appeared to fly through the air and land 'like a snowflake'. Her career was long and varied; she worked with Olga Spessivtseva, Serge Lifar, Ninette de Valois, Bronislava Nijinska, Leonide Massine, Michel Fokine, Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor, amongst others, and although Alicia Markova achieved fame and, eventually, some measure of fortune, her life was not without its difficulties and heartaches, as Tina Sutton's colourful biography reveals.

This is a well-researched and detailed biography of a very talented and hard-working artist, who believed that ballet should be for everyone, not just for the elite. As the author informs us towards the close of her biography, Alicia Markova was Britain's first 'prima ballerina assoluta'; she was credited with pioneering British ballet in the 1930s; she was instrumental in the creation and early success of every ballet company formed in England: Ballet Rambert, The Sadler's Wells (now The Royal Ballet) and The Festival Ballet (currently The English National Ballet); and she brought ballet to the provinces for the first time. When she retired in her fifties, Alicia Markova was committed to sharing and passing on her knowledge, and she continued to do this well into her old age.

Tina Sutton, a fashion and arts writer for 'The Boston Globe', has packed her 600+ page biography with facts, diary and letter excerpts, newspaper reviews, interviews, anecdotes and quotes, and most of this makes for very interesting reading. The writing style is very accessible and informal - however, I was surprised by some of the almost 'slangy' language used on occasion, and if I am entirely honest, I feel the author relied a little too much on the use of block quotations and extracts from other sources to support her own narrative - often including several excerpts from different publications, all reporting the same event, which I thought was a little unnecessary at times. That said, being an enthusiast of the ballet and having spent a substantial part of my life either watching or taking part in ballet, I found this biography an informative, entertaining and enjoyable read. If reading this has aroused your interest in Dame Alicia, do take a look at YouTube which has a selection of film clips of the dancer both performing and coaching younger dancers, which makes for very interesting viewing.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 18 November 2014
World-famous ballerina, Alicia Markova, was not Russian as her adopted name suggests, but British, and was born Lilian Alicia Marks into a Jewish family in England in 1910, the same year that the legendary Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, made her first appearance on the London Stage. A shy, frail child with flat feet, knock knees and weak legs, Alicia started ballet lessons when her mother, an ardent ballet fan, was advised that learning to dance might help strengthen Alicia's legs and feet. Alicia took to ballet lessons with application and enthusiasm, and she was soon surprising her teachers and fellow students with her astonishing talent, earning herself the title of 'The Child Pavlova'. In fact, by the age of fourteen, her dancing skills were so impressive that when Sergei Diaghilev saw her dance, she was accepted into the Ballets Russes as his 'baby ballerina' - the youngest ever dancer to be offered a place in the renowned ballet company.

At the Ballets Russes, Alicia received music tutelage from Igor Stravinsky; she took dance lessons with ballet master, Enrico Cecchetti; she worked with choreographer, George Ballanchine, and had her costumes designed by Henri Matisse; and through a combination of natural talent and very hard work, she began to develop a technical brilliance that soon had her winning solo roles and the respect and envy of those in the dancing world. Tiny in stature (as an adult dancer she sometimes struggled to maintain seven stones in weight) and with size 2.5 feet (all of her ballet shoes had to be made specially for her), Alicia Markova seemed to defy gravity, as she appeared to fly through the air and land 'like a snowflake'. Her career was long and varied; she worked with Olga Spessivtseva, Serge Lifar, Ninette de Valois, Bronislava Nijinska, Leonide Massine, Michel Fokine, Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor, amongst others, and although Alicia Markova achieved fame and, eventually, some measure of fortune, her life was not without its difficulties and heartaches, as Tina Sutton's colourful biography reveals.

This is a well-researched and detailed biography of a very talented and hard-working artist, who believed that ballet should be for everyone, not just for the elite. As the author informs us towards the close of her biography, Alicia Markova was Britain's first 'prima ballerina assoluta'; she was credited with pioneering British ballet in the 1930s; she was instrumental in the creation and early success of every ballet company formed in England: Ballet Rambert, The Sadler's Wells (now The Royal Ballet) and The Festival Ballet (currently The English National Ballet); and she brought ballet to the provinces for the first time. When she retired in her fifties, Alicia Markova was committed to sharing and passing on her knowledge, and she continued to do this well into her old age.

Tina Sutton, a fashion and arts writer for 'The Boston Globe', has packed her 600+ page biography with facts, diary and letter excerpts, newspaper reviews, interviews, anecdotes and quotes, and most of this makes for very interesting reading. The writing style is very accessible and informal - however, I was surprised by some of the almost 'slangy' language used on occasion, and if I am entirely honest, I feel the author relied a little too much on the use of block quotations and extracts from other sources to support her own narrative - often including several excerpts from different publications, all reporting the same event, which I thought was a little unnecessary at times. That said, being an enthusiast of the ballet and having spent a substantial part of my life either watching or taking part in ballet, I found this biography an informative, entertaining and enjoyable read. If reading this has aroused your interest in Dame Alicia, do take a look at YouTube which has a selection of film clips of the dancer both performing and coaching younger dancers, which makes for very interesting viewing.

4 Stars.
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on 8 September 2014
One might think that there is nothing new to write about Markova. This book however for the first time draws upon her full archive it also sets the work of Markova in context with the period and the with the establishment of British ballet . Far from an academic tome this book with photos is an easy enjoyable read, both fascinating for those knowledgeable about ballet but also of interest too to those interested in people and conveys much of her modest character.
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on 7 December 2014
Was very disappointed with this product. Waited weeks for it to come from America,which Iis fair enough. However I thought I was buying a new book. When it arrived it came with a slip sayinng that most books from this seller are publishersreturns with marks on. This one has a large black marker pen line that goes down all the pages of the closed book. It was going to be a present but I can't give it as that now because it looks like I bought it from a charity shop. Except I wouldn't have paid fifteen pounds for it in a charity shop. Not happy at all but not worth sending it back to the US because of the postage cost. Feel cheated.
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on 8 September 2014
One might think that there is nothing new to write about Markova. This book however for the first time draws upon her full archive it also sets the work of Markova in context with the period and the with the establishment of British ballet . Far from an academic tome the 670 pages with photos is a easy enjoyable read both fascinating for those knowledgeable about ballet or students of dance history but of interest too to those interested in people and conveys much of her modest character.
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on 12 November 2014
Very happy with the prompt delivery and good price for this book as it was for a present
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on 20 January 2015
A ground breaking period in British ballet and a fascinating life story.
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on 23 January 2015
bought as present, lovely
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on 23 September 2014
Disappointing. The author having had access to Markova's archives I expected more than a never-ending review of her press cuttings and a more balanced critique of the dancer and her life. The author is over-biased to her subject, yet the dancer emerges as a distant, asexual figure.
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