Customer Reviews for

Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    A Gift to the Land of Ballet

    Let me be clear, I am not a ballet fan, although after reading this book, I will surely go to see at least one. Mr. Manes' ability to tell a story combined with his apparently unlimited access to everyone involved in the Pacific Northwest Ballet company combined to keep me interested for all 900+ pages. His style of writing seems to flow effortlessly, mixing the mainstream narrative, as he takes the reader through an entire ballet season, with digressions into individual dancers' or staff biographies, or a bit of history of the PNB, other ballet companies, or possibly best of all the ballet schools that provide the dancers that make up the professional ranks.

    If you are a fan of ballet, but have never been involved in actually getting one onto the stage, reading this book will enhance your understanding of what you are seeing and why. If you are a parent of a child that wants to dance or is already in ballet classes, the insight into how one goes from being a flower in the Nutcracker to playing Romeo or Juliet in Monte Carlo is invaluable.

    The ungilded portraits Mr. Manes presents of not just the dancers, but everyone from those sitting on the company's board to the musicians, physical therapist and even the stagehands is delightful. These people are sometimes what you might expect, but usually are much, much more, and all contribute in ways I certainly didn't imagine was required to get each show up and running. The writing often reflects the tension of getting a ballet staged, dealing with problems with injured dancers, broken smoke machines, missing props, broken technology, and, of all things, intellectual property rights. The writing also reflects the humor and great generosity that is an everyday part of the individuals' and company's work.

    Snowflakes Dance and Swear is a gift to those that inhabit "The Land of Ballet" and to those that take the time to learn about it. Rarely does one get to learn so much while getting to enjoy such a book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Fascinating in-depth look inside one of America's premier dance companies

    Stephen Manes loves his ballet, and his insatiable curiosity has brought him to explore the intricate inner workings of Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of America's premier dance companies. There's room for everyone's story here, from the promising young gymnast who tells his mom he'd really like to learn more about dancing, to the veteran technical director ready and willing to fix anything on a moment's notice, to the dressers, sewers, musicians, carpenters, lighting technicians, financial managers, members of the Board -- you get the picture. Manes has approached them all for their stories, which he recounts with warmth and humor. It all translates to a BIG book about dance, but one you'll be eager to get back to each time you're forced to set it down. More than just a book about dance, this is a story about people, people obsessed with the intricate creative possibilities of human bodies in motion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    A Ballet book no insider could in human drama & rare insights

    Rather than just another stiff-as-a-starched tutu retelling of ballet history through "heroic figures" and "watershed events" by some pretentious insider, Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear is a charming and warm book that shares the human drama and professional lives of a leading contemporary ballet company.

    Stephen Manes shares the day to day lives, challenges and ambitions, not just of the dancers (from stars to spear-carriers), but delivers in-depth coverage of many previously unexamined or intentionally-ignored people & departments in a company, from costumes and sets to lighting and the orchestra, to marketers and ushers, all of whom are vital to the ballet experience.

    I think every young dancer should read Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear. Like baseball, ballet dancing has a remarkably competitive career path that winnows candidates. For every dancer who seems excellent at her or his own level, only a fraction make it at the next level up. As the book reveals, the commitment required to persist is enormous, the economic rewards pretty limited, the chance for personal satisfaction immense, the opportunities for ballet careers beyond dancing diverse and interesting. A young dancer will become both more realistic and more emotionally durable by reading the book.

    If you're thinking about being daunted by the length of this book -- don't be. It is rich with human drama, starring a cast of a hundred interesting people we get to follow through their various roles in the Pacific Northwest Ballet's season. Manes makes sure you get to see their individual personalities through vivid portraits he delivers by using their own words. The unfolding dramatic events and stories about people we care about make the book a page-turner.

    I didn't know a ton about ballet before I started reading Manes' book. I now believe I have the kind of knowledge one gets from a really good "plant tour". I feel like I really know a lot of the individuals I met through this insightful and fun book. I will be following their careers and attending ballets more than ever, even having been presented with the complex, sometimes sad realities of the art. A remarkably valuable guide book to the REAL Land of Ballet, unromanticized but Romantic nevertheless, the way no insider could ever have had either the guts or perspective to deliver.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013


    Umm... it heals on its own... mom never takes cats to the vet.)))

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013


    (Well cats dont kno how to fix it, so yea. In rp, it is.)

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    Christmas present

    Purchased this for my daughter and granddaughter for Christmas. Stephen Manes is a brother in law to a very good friend and she told us about the book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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