THE PRIVATE WORLD OF BALLET by John Gruen

THE PRIVATE WORLD OF BALLET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An incredible book for the same audience as Joseph H. Mazo's Dance is a Contact Sport (1974), but with less boyish enthusiasm and a very different sort of grasp. What Gruen has done is to assemble scores of interviews with central figures going back to the original Ballet Russe. They span a whole tradition -- a tradition that relies to an exceptional degree on face-to-face confrontations. We have always wanted to know more about the chemistry-cum-mechanics of dancing, the dynamics of all those mixed-up and incestuous personalities; but that would call ideally for some sort of holographic medium that would print everybody's autobiography simultaneously. Gruen goes about as far as is presently feasible in that direction. . . beginning with Serge Lifar, snagged at a Cannes gala Hommage a Diaghilev, something about him now seeming permanently stunned. In a way this book is a ghostly beginning that provides a most uncomfortable sense of history; but soon the fascination of a multiple viewpoint sets in and personalities emerge in heightened third-dimension. This, one feels, is the way it really is -- and still all within living memory. Some who speak are Rosella Hightower, Dame Margot, Danilova, Markova and a Coward-esque Anton Dolin, Nureyev, Bejart, and Ailey -- a whale of a scope, with interests as diverse as Mr. Balanchine's wives and Arthur Mitchell's project in Harlem. The interest in fact seems just about inexhaustible, and the audience we'd guess to be big.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1975
Publisher: Viking