WINTER SEASON: A Dancer's Journal by Toni Bentley

WINTER SEASON: A Dancer's Journal

Email this review


Bentley's diary of her 1980-81 season in the corps at the New York City Ballet--a season during which she has to decide whether to keep on dancing or pursue real life. ""In the New York City Ballet I am one of seventy girls like me. Outside I'm one of seventy in the whole world--I need that kind of appreciation for my uniqueness."" So sometimes Bentley is inspired to dance--despite the horrors of toe shoes, obsessive dieting, low pay. Also inspiring: ""Mr. B,"" of course, whose personal aura of genius is enough to stifle almost every attempt at dancer unionizing (""What would have happened if Van Gogh's brushes one day had refused to be manipulated because they wanted better living conditions?""); the snowflake beauty of the Nutcracker; or the glorious dancing of Suzanne Farrell (""frankly I cannot put any words on paper to describe her magnificence""). But at other times Bentley feels despair because ""we dance, we don't live. . . I am starved for people, life, thoughts, conversation, alternatives to my NYCB world. . . I can see no way, no way at all, to be a woman and dance."" (An unhappy backstage romance--with a star--is also included, but in rather arch, third-person form: ""Isabelle was as innocent as the princess in a fairy tale."") Finally, then, Bentley decides to take a leave of absence. . . only to return to make a new, full commitment to dancing: ""Joy is a gift, and I will not look for a price tag."" A rather mild, humorless identity-crisis overall--far less engaging than the one in Joan Brady's similar The Unmaking of a Dancer (p. 312)--but City Ballet fans will want to share the backstage peeks at Martins, Watts, Farrell et al., and some amusing corps-de-ballet mishaps.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Random House