A hefty discussion of dance in America--which, for all its weight, never gets around to the minor, offbeat, or regional...



A hefty discussion of dance in America--which, for all its weight, never gets around to the minor, offbeat, or regional companies most readers might have a chance to see, let alone join. The featured ""Four Young Ballet Dancers"" are all already known as up-and-coming New York City Ballet standouts, and the featured ""Superdancers"" are either with the New York City Ballet or, in a few cases, the American Ballet Theater, also in New York. The other two featured dancers are ""all-around dancer"" Ronald Brown of the Alvin Alley company and Susan Danielle, a broadway dancer of Chorus Line fame. (In her history, Switzer gives due credit to Broadway show dancing for making dance acceptable to the American public.) A section on individual companies and choreographers profiles the best known: New York City Ballet and George Balanchine, with attention also to Jerome Robbins; The American Ballet Theater and Agnes de Mille; Jeffrey; Ailey; Martha Graham; Merce Cunningham; Paul Taylor; and Twyla Tharp. The prose is ponderously descriptive, laced with praise--except for a good deal of pleading and protest regarding government budget cuts. This can get ridiculously banal, as do the exclamations of how drug-free and well-behaved ballet children are; but perhaps we can forgive this for the information on other countries' extensive support for the arts and for one fact about ours: In 1981 federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (that's all the arts) was cut by one-third, to a total of 85 million dollars. At the same time the budget for military bands alone was raised to 95 million, as part of the Pentagon allocation. These bands, Switzer reminds us, ""rarely play for the public and usually don't play very well at any time."" In truth, the book is not below standard among YA roundups, and libraries may want it for the increasingly popular subject. But young people interested in dance will probably find that adult books with some style and sharper critical appreciation are easier going.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1982