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I am not really into dancing but like the vast majority of people I have seen Black Swan (DVD + Digital Copy), and when I saw this book it was on promo and I thought I would give it a go. Alida Belair gives us a fascinating insight into the world of ballet.

Born a Jew in Occupied France Alida definitely had a dramatic start to her life, with her family in hiding. From there, after the War they emmigrated to Australia. As Alida takes us through her childhood and her love for ballet we are soon engrossed in her world and her story. With a certain amount of exploitation and being continually pushed we are shown the more disturbing side of psychological abuse that dancers can go through, especially with Alida and her anorexia, and her continually stuffing herself with laxatives. We can read about her travels and the run-down places where she has performed, both in the Outback and in England.

This is disturbing and bleak at times, but also there is a whole host of eccentric characters who seem to live on being always in the limelight and being in control. There is also quite a bit of humour here as well. If you are interested in ballet behind the scenes or just love a good true story then you should lap this up.

There are a few criticisms I must make though, there are slightly above average typos in the text, which itself could do with some tidying up in places. Also a lot of the photos could have done with being bigger. But apart from these criticisms I am really glad that I have read this book.
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on 8 March 2016
A very honest and and interesting account of life as a freelance principal dancer in the 1960s, by an unusually articulate dancer. If you thought the movie "Black Swan" was far-fetched, think again. I hadn't realised that the Alida Belair I read about in he 1960s was the Alida Glasbeek I saw as Clara in the Nutcracker in Melbourne in the 50s.
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on 19 April 2014
not my usual genre of choice but decided to give this a try. i really enjoyed this book. yes its a bit long winded but the story and language were enjoyable. lots of pictues also which were a nice addidition
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on 25 July 2013
Would have given five stars but felt ending should have continued. Otherwise a worthwhile read. Especially for any dancers. Recommended.
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on 20 November 2013
Couldn't get into this book at all. There are better dancer biographies and stories available on Amazon and would recommend buying one of those.
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