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Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection
Throughout her history, the ballerina has been perceived as the embodiment of beauty and perfection the feminine ideal. But the reality is another story. From the earliest ballerinas in the 17th century, who often led double lives as concubines, through the poverty of the corps de ballet dancers in the 1800’s and the anorexic and bulimic ballerinas of George Balanchine, starvation and exploitation have plagued ballerinas throughout history.
Using the stories of great dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, and Evelyn Hart, Deirdre Kelly exposes the true rigors for women in ballet. She rounds her critique with examples of how the world of ballet is slowly evolving for the better. But to ensure that this most graceful of dance forms survives into the future, she says that the time has come to rethink ballet, to position the ballerina at its center and accord her the respect she deserves.
About the Author
Deirdre Kelly is a writer with the Globe and Mail and was the paper's dance critic for fifteen years. Her articles on dance have appeared in Dance Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and The International Dictionary of Ballet, and she is currently the Canadian correspondent for the Dance Gazette. She is the author of Paris Times Eight: Finding Myself in the City of Dreams. She lives in Toronto with her family.
Praise for Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection…
"[Kelley is] fresh and adept when summoning the art’s spellbinding yet harrowing earlier centuries"Publishers Weekly
fast-paced and fascinating a pleasurable read for any balletomane.”Library Journal
"Ballerina features the powerful and dramatic stories of some of the industries greatest dancers"The Dance Journal
"Kelly exposes, with rich detail, the underbelly of the world that only those with a true calling to dance en pointe could endure. ...Read this book. You will never look at a ballet production through the same eyes again."—Portland Book Review
Ballerina is a literary dance of narrative and emotion that pirouettes between rage and sorrow, backstage bleakness and transcendent beauty. A terrific book.”Elizabeth Abbott, author of A History of Celibacy