Geva was the first ballerina-protegee-wife of George Balanchine, who, it is well known, always ""fell in love with his Galatea""; but in this memoir of her Russian youth, Balanchine and his egomania only appear at the end. Narrated somewhat in the manner of a ladies' magazine confession, full of reconstructed conversations, the story nevertheless has vitality without sensationalism. Geva's mother was the beautiful, coarse, selfish mistress of her father, a wealthy St. Petersburg factory-owner, art collector, and patron of the avant-garde. The squalid intrigues of their household before and after the marriage were softened for Geva by an intelligent and loving governess who encouraged her ballet lessons. Geva herself was tough and talented enough to fight her way without too much serf-compromise or suffering. The 1917 revolution inflicted only moderate duress on the family, apart from her mother's affair with a black marketeer; cabarets, little theaters, and the poet Mayakovsky were the mise-en-scene for Geva's adolescent successes as a dancer. At 15 she married Balanchine and at 18 she left Russia for the U.S.; after a Ziegfeld interlude she rejoined Balanchine to start the American Ballet. Unfortunately, the company's birth is only briefly sketched, and indeed balletomanes will find less richness here than will connoisseurs of the period.