"A DANCE AGAINST TIME: The Brief, Brilliant Life of a Joffrey Dancer" by Diane Solway

"A DANCE AGAINST TIME: The Brief, Brilliant Life of a Joffrey Dancer"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sensitive biography of a young dancer/choreographer who died of AIDS just two days after his first two dances premiered at the Joffrey Ballet in March 1991. Freelance journalist Solway uses Edward Stierle's short life to contrast the development of a prodigious talent with the tragic waste of early death. She looks at these intertwining themes from the personal perspective of Stierle, his family, and close friends as well as considering them as part of a larger picture: the effect of AIDS on the dance world and on the arts scene in general. Born in 1968, Stierle was raised in Florida, the youngest of eight children of a hardworking high school custodian. His mother ferried her talented son from age four on to endless classes and auditions; she trumpeted his achievements to all who would listen and tried to control his personal life even after he moved to Europe and then New York City. In spite of a short, stocky build, Stierle became a brilliant dance technician and at age 16 won a gold medal in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Joffrey Ballet, where he was put directly into starring roles and encouraged to choreograph. A tireless selfpromoter, Stierle alienated many colleagues and friends by his obsession with his own talent and career -- although after his death some would charitably attribute his urgency to the knowledge that he was running out of time. Stierle's struggle with his bisexuality is fully recounted here. He attributed his infection to a 1987 encounter in California, and although he was virtually symptom-free for a couple of years, by 1990 the disease was rapidly progressing as he worked desperately to finish the two extraordinary ballets -- Lacrymosa and Empyrean Dances -- that are his legacy. While keeping Stierle's story within the context of the larger AIDS tragedy, Solway's plain, measured prose makes clear the personal and professional magnitude of this individual loss.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Pocket