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so this seemed like the perfect book for me
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 would want to read what quickly became 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; 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.