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(3.5 stars) ‘Étonnez-moi, Diaghilev had said to his dancers in the Ballet Russes: astonish me’
on 4 April 2014
All Joan ever wanted from the age of 4 is to be a ballerina: but how do you cope when you’re talented, but just not talented enough?
This is very good on the fierce world of professional ballet: the relationships dancers have with their bodies, the torment of knowing that you’re not good enough to ever be principal ballerina, the agonies of ageing and finding your body starting to let you down.
The story overall, though, flits backwards and forwards from the 1970s to the 2000s, and feels unnecessarily disjointed rather than organic. It’s oddly passionless, and is a little light on characterisation. Arslan, for example, with his Tatar background, his defection from the USSR, and compelling magnetism seems too obviously drawn on Rudolf Nureyev, with Mr K an analogue for Balanchine.
This is an enjoyable read which treats ballet as a challenging profession rather than something that is all froth and tutus. All the same, it doesn't quite live up to the hyperbole and hype of the blurb above - 3.5 stars.
(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)