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Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal by Toni Bentley

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal is the exquisite chronicle of a ballet dancer's experiences with the New York City Ballet written by Toni Bentley. Now re-issued.
She writes: "We are hairless. We have no leg hairs, no pubic hair, no armpit hair, no facial hair, no neck hair and only a solid little lump at the top of our heads. Any sign of stubble must be closely watched out for and removed."
"That is not all. We don't eat food, we eat music. We need artistic sustenance only. Emotional, inspiring sustenance. Al our physical energy is the overflow of spiritual feelings. We live on faith, belief, love, inspiration, vitamins and Tab."

Ballet books
The Surrender : An Erotic Memoir by Toni Bentley

"I am sitting on the threshold. Perhaps this is the final paradox of God's paradoxical machinations: my ass is my very own back door to heaven. The Pearly Gates are closer than you think." Bentley is writing of her rhapsodic experience with sodomy. So some will call this memoir blasphemous, others spiritual; some pornographic, others erotic. What it is, is wonderfully smart and sexy and witty and moving, a tale of unbounded passion that leads to transcendence. The tale is paradoxical in more ways than one: aside from Bentley's ass leading to heaven, she finds that submission leads to freedom—a freedom she had never known as a dancer with the New York City Ballet (about which she wrote her first book, Winter Season), nor in her failed marriage, nor in any of her other polymorphously perverse sexual experiences. While deeply serious, Bentley is also hilarious as she describes the delights of crotchless panties ("they come in many different styles—each with its own je ne sais quoi") and touching in an imagined obituary for her lover, A-Man ("He was the only one who took time to be friends with my cat.... He was the one with whom I couldn't tell whose pleasure gave me more pleasure"). Bentley's honesty about the most intimate of subjects is daring and delightful for those willing to follow her to, so to speak, the end.

Ballet books
White Swan, Black Swan: Stories by Adrienne Sharp

The world's most famous choreographer becomes infatuated with a coltish young dancer who proves both siren and muse. A rising star plunges into an affair with a principal but finds that ecstasy on the stage can't be surpassed in the bed. A dying legend reflects on the evanescent beauty of a life of gesture, lost to everything but memory. Each bittersweet story plants the reader amid a cast of dancers and choreographers who struggle—valiantly, playfully, fiercely—to find in the rigorous discipline and animating beauty of ballet a counterbalance to the chaos of unscripted life. Many of the tales dare to imagine the inner lives of the century's titans—Balanchine, Fonteyn and Nureyev—which rival in emotional complexity and pathos the classic dramas they enacted onstage: La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Swan Lake. White Swan, Black Swan translates the pure and essential gestures of ballet into starkly elegant prose while showing the sweat and sex beneath the serene surface. Adrienne Sharp's debut is a bravura performance.

Ballet books
Dancer: A Novel by Colum McCann

A Russian peasant who became an international legend, a Cold War exile who inspired millions, an artist whose name stood for genius, sex, and excess-the magnificence of Rudolf Nureyev's life and work are known, but now Colum McCann, in his most daring novel yet, reinvents this erotically charged figure through the light he cast on those who knew him. Taking his inspiration from the biographical facts, McCann tells the story through a chorus of voices: there is Anna Vasileva, Rudi's first ballet teacher, who rescues her protégé from the stunted life of his town; Yulia, whose sexual and artistic ambitions are thwarted by her Soviet-sanctioned marriage; and Victor, the Venezuelan hustler, who reveals the lurid underside of the gay celebrity set. Spanning four decades and many worlds, from the horrors of Stalingrad to the wild abandon of New York in the eighties, Dancer is peopled by a large cast of characters, obscure and famous: doormen and shoemakers, Margot Fonteyn and John Lennon. And at the heart of the spectacle stands the artist himself, willful, lustful, and driven by a never-to-be-met need for perfection. In ecstatic prose, McCann evokes the distinct consciousness of the man and the glittering reflection of the myth. The result is a monumental story of love, art, and exile.

Ballet books
Corpse de Ballet : A Nine Muses Mystery: Terpsichore by Ellen Pall

Terpsichore, the ancient Greek goddess of dance, must be smiling down from her home on Mt. Helicon at Pall's (Back East) splendid first entry in this cleverly themed series with its insights into the egos, jealousies, pains and passions of a Manhattan ballet company. Juliet Bodine, a successful writer of Regency novels and ex-professor of English literature at Barnard, puts aside her own deadlines to give literary advice to her longtime friend, Ruth Renswick, choreographer for the Jansch Ballet Company of New York, who is creating a new ballet based on Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. A ballet fan herself, Juliet is fascinated by the personalities of the company and the process of creating a new production. When a lead dancer dies suddenly, she's convinced it was murder, but her old Harvard friend, police detective Murray Landis, concludes the death was a suicide. Case closed, but not for Juliet. From the executive director to the lowliest member of the corps, the characters come alive through Juliet's astute observations and the extremely well-crafted dialogue. Vivid settings capture summer in New York, and one can almost feel the heat and steam of the ballet studio. Both mystery fans and ardent balletomanes will be left with great expectations and eager anticipation for the next in the series.

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