These highlights of Croce's New Yorker columns, from 1981 to 1987, will please her many fans as they chronicle the mainstream of N.Y.C. dance for those years. Croce concentrates on ballet, most often the New York City Ballet, including the important period surrounding Balanchine's death: ""If readiness is all, then the Bishop was right, and Balanchine died a happy man. It was only that his dancers and his audience could not bear to let him go."" There is vintage Croce here. Sometimes, she lays down the law: ""when choreographers take real life as their subject, they usually take it in the abstract. Literal intentions are almost always suicidal; even when they succeed they generally don't succeed at a high level and the choreographer is accused of trying to think, as if cogitation and choreography were mutually antagonistic."" Often, she cuts ruthlessly through pretense; while many critics fall over themselves to climb on the Tina Bausch bandwagon, Croce annihilated the Dance Theatre of Wuppertal--without unreasonable venom, just on its merits or lack thereof as dance: ""Bausch's covered floors have become famous, and I imagine the clinicians really do have something to say about this need to sell the floor end to end and wing to wing with objects or foreign substances. . . The casting is determinedly egalitarian (everyone gets a chance to bore you)."" Also within these years are Croce's first report on then 19-year-old Alessandra Ferri (then with the Royal Ballet), and a response to the relevation of Kirldand's Dancing on My Grave. Entertaining, instructive, and remarkably without pomposity.