FOOTWORK by Ian McMahan


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Despite flaws, which include the author's unsettling certainty that yuppies are princes among men, this is pretty fancy footwork, indeed: a well-written, highly enjoyable potboiler about the search for a new director for a prestigious New York ballet company. Jennifer Helson, 31, is the head of her own Manhattan investment firm, but doesn't quite have it all--the lover from whom she's seeking a commitment turns out to be gay (which precipitates a rather unnecessary, cheap-thrills AIDS scare for the poor woman). Still, as a lifelong balletomane, she's thrilled when she's appointed to the board of directors of the Metropolitan Ballet, which has begun a search for a replacement for their aging, Balanchine-like founder, Robert Lefebreve. Jennifer pumps for French choreographer Andre Yussupov; a genius of ""inhuman intensity"" given to wearing black leather, but she's opposed by another member of the board, arrogant, boy-wonder real-estate tycoon ""Douglas Diamond,"" who is pushing for dull but respectable Gregory Morris, Lefebreve's present assistant. The future of dance in New York is at stake, and Jennifer soon realizes that someone is waging a vicious smear campaign against her firm, claiming it's a Mafia front (and Yussupov himself is harassed--needles are found embedded in his grease pencils!). It's obvious that the villain is Diamond, but that doesn't rain our enjoyment when Jennifer trumps him at a final board meeting, revealing that he's backing Morris in return for the right to demolish the old but stately Metropolitan Ballet building and replace it with a glass monstrosity. Now Jennifer has it all: Yussupov is appointed Director, and they marry and have a child. Though McMahan takes a pratfall when he attempts to delve too deeply into shallow but savvy Jennifer's past and her maudlin dream of becoming a dancer, this is a smart, funny novel with a plot that clicks in almost all the right places.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1986
Publisher: Franklin Watts