I REMEMBER BALANCHINE

: RECOLLECTIONS OF THE BALLET MASTER BY THOSE WHO KNEW HIM

``I don't think there is a definitive portrait of Balanchine,'' says longtime New York City Ballet administrator Betty Cage herein. ``Everybody has a different view, a different perspective...all true in certain ways and all lacking in certain ways.'' This collection of more than 75 such perspectives from friends and associates ultimately tells us much more about the contributors than about Balanchine-but is nonetheless entertaining and often riveting. Mason (editor of Ballet Review) does put his finger on why talking about Balanchine reveals so much about the speakers: ``I have never known so many people so eager to talk about a man. Balanchine was clearly a dominant figure to all of them: talking about him explained themselves, relived their careers, made sense of their lives, assimilated the past for the future.'' Throughout, this leads to a seriousness and solemnity in interviews from such widely varied personalities as Alexandra Danilova, Nureyev, Erick Hawkins, Katherine Dunham, and Darci Kistler. Lincoln Kirstein, quoted in a 1933 letter to a friend after first meeting Balanchine, is full of the urgency of having recognized a genius: ``This will be the most important letter I will ever write you...My pen burns my hand...We have a real chance to have an American ballet within 3 years time...'' Mason deftly lets each distinctive voice come through loud and clear. Here is Edward Villella on discussing the essence of gesture with Balanchine: ``At the beginning of the pas de deux, Apollo and Tersichore touch their fingertips together, and I said, `Jeez, that's really very beautiful.' '' And there are plenty of sidelights into dance history that have nothing to do with Balanchine. The ballerina Tamara Geva (Balanchine's first wife) remembers Isadora Duncan: ``I shall never forget her performance: Wagnerian music, with a symphony orchestra down below in the pit, and up on the stage of the Maryinsky this lady stretched out on the floor. She lay there for a long time while we were all waiting for something to happen.'' A massive (640-page), eloquent effort that provides a valuable oral history of the ballet world. If it doesn't add to our knowledge of Balanchine, it does, most importantly, underscore his extraordinary contribution. As Helgi Tomasson, now director of the San Francisco Ballet poignantly captures the elusiveness of dance as well as of Balanchine's genius: ``the farther we get from his leaving us, the less we will remember.''

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-26610-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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