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These are the memoirs of the prima ballerina assoluta of the Imperial Russian ballet. Kschessinska was the ballerina of her time- a unique position, more privileged, and more limiting, than that of any modern screen star's. Highly trained from childhood, she had (according to the reviewers, whom she quotes liberally) an apparently breathtaking on-stage charm. Her talent won her, at about 18, a love affair with the Tsarevitch, and though this ended when the Tsar's death made it necessary for his heir to marry royalty and assume the duties of state, Kschessinska retained the new Tsar's protection during most of her career. The following twenty years of ballets, reviews, ovations, admirers, back-stage quarrels, and life among the talented and the nobility are recorded with an odd schoolgirl quality. Kschessinska was an artiste. She lived in and for the charmed circle of success and hard work. Life outside was rarely seen. On the even of the Revolution, setting her table with flowers made of jewels, gold goblets, etc. she complains that there is not room for it all -- and remarks that, as if in answer, it was all taken away. Well- not suite all. With the young Count Andre and their son she flees, with other wealthy refugees, to resort towns in the depths of Russia- and to other properties in France. She marries ndre, and enters a curious, revived social life among the survivors. She starts a school a Paris, which is attended by all the great names in society and dance.... For balletomanes, his is doubtless a fascinating account of a leading force in the art.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday