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All in the Dances

A Brief Life of George Balanchine


Terry Teachout (View Bio)
Hardcover: Harcourt, 2004.

All in the Dances

"The writing is graceful, with a judicious use of primary sources, and Teachout movingly conveys his love for Balanchine's art in a short text that makes no pretense to be the last word but fulfills its author's intention that it serve as a layperson's introduction. The perfect first book to read about Balanchine, and intelligent enough to have value for more knowledgeable admirers as well." — Kirkus Reviews

"Terry Teachout is the critic's critic, a promoter of excellence whose eye is sharp and whose enthusiasms are infectious.... This book is excellent not just as an account of Balanchine's remarkable career — émigré establishes a high art form in his populist new homeland — but as an introduction to the world of ballet." — National Review

"Remind[s] us what all the song and dance was once really about." — New York Review of Books

"Lively and opinionated...Teachout's book ardently examines [his] ballets as modern art, persuasively ranking Balanchine alongside Henri Matisse and Igor Stravinsky in innovation and achievement." — Entertainment Weekly

"ALL IN THE DANCES is in a position to return Balanchine to the spotlight. Teachout's biography includes all the essentials: Balanchine's parents' musicality, his childhood music and dance training, his method of working, how he conducted himself with students in class and with particular dancers, what he considered his best ballet, and how he viewed his adopted country of America. The text modulates between public and private life without drowning us in irrelavancies and deepens our insight by quoting comments by the man and those who knew him.... [A] vibrant narrative." — The Weekly Standard

"[Teachout] writes well and writes short...[and] hopes to reach the layman rather than the aficionado who flits between Miami City Ballet, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the other companies that keep alive the flame Balanchine lighted in New York.... [Teachout] convey[s]...sheer excitement." — The New York Times Book Review

"[Teachout] gets the point, most vividly, of the company's actual dark spirit, Lincoln Kirstein. It was this misanthropic, complex giant of a man who brought Balanchine to the United States and helped him create City Ballet. The shy and ungainly Kirstein raised the money and established the connections in the larger world of culture that enabled Balanchine to do his work. Mr. Teachout's analysis of the relationship between the two men and Kirstein's painful sense of his own irrelevance is the heart of ALL IN THE DANCES." — The New York Times

"'Balanchine was every bit as important as...Matisse,' say literary critic Teachout, who writes for the viewer who doesn't know a passé from a pas de chat, but has, like Teachout, been 'amazed' by one of Balanchine's works. His book is pithy, conversational and vivid, touching on all the major points of Balanchine's life. When a journalist asked Balanchine about his life, he replied, 'It's all in the programs.' But there was more to it, for his choreography is inexorably bound with the ballerinas he loved. He married four (Tamara Geva, Vera Zorina, Maria Tallchief and Tanaquil LeClerqc), and lived with a fifth (Alexandra Danilova). In later years, he also pursued other dancers, most notably Allegra Kent and Suzanne Farrell. 'Woman is the goddess, the poetess, the muse,' he said. His company, trained in fast, energetic, lean style, was the perfect vehicle for his works — among those discussed by Teachout are the elegant and jazzy Concerto Barocco, the acidic, spare Agon and the mysterious Serenade. Balanchine's ballets are modern masterpieces, and Teachout, moving chronologically from work to work, uses them as stepping stones to tell Balanchine's own story. This is highly recommended as a first book on the life and art of George Balanchine for students and the general reader." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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