Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT

Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT

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by Elena Tchernichova, Joel Lobenthal

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The pageantry and drama of a life in danceSee more details below


The pageantry and drama of a life in dance

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Part historical portrait of Leningrad in the 20th century, part ballet primer, and part nostalgic coming-of-age story, this book tells the story of world renowned ballerina and coach Elena Tchernichova. From her tragic beginnings in the Soviet Union to her success with the American Ballet Theatre, Tchernichova chronicles her trials and triumphs from poverty to prosperity. Written in highly descriptive language, this book will fascinate even nondance aficionados with the dancer’s story of her rise through the ranks of Russian ballet to her eventual immigration to the United States. Although dancing memoirs tend to get caught up in nostalgia and readers may find themselves reaching for the dictionary owing to the book’s heavy use of dance-specific terminology, Tchernichova’s story is full of figures as flawed and interesting as the ones these dancers portrayed in their performances. Readers will not only learn about the life and career of a great dancer but also get a glimpse of the oppressive artistic climate of the Soviet Union.

Verdict Recommended for ballet lovers and anyone interested in against-all-odds success stories.—Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From the Publisher
“The voice in the book is excellent company, as Tchernichova endures growing pains, backstage intrigues, and the shocks of emigration... This book offers a fascinating portrait of a surprisingly open-minded ballet intellectual.”—Dance Magazine

“A book as illuminating as it is interesting, revelatory about how ballet works, and fascinating as an account of a life devoted to an art—and to survival.”—Robert Gottlieb, New York Review of Books

“Rudolf Nureyev, Natasha Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, George Balanchine—these are gods as far as I’m concerned, and we see them here onstage, backstage, and offstage, human-scaled and yet capable of transcendence in performance that makes ballet the most fourth-dimensional of arts.”—James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

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Product Details

Northeastern University Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

Laura Jacobs
“The Russian classical dance tradition and its postwar relationship with ballet in the West is a story that’s usually told on the fly by defecting stars. In the memoir Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, the renowned teacher and director Elena Tchernichova, a classmate and colleague of Nureyev, Baryshnikov, and Makarova, offers an intimate view of the aesthetic ideals and political compromises that defined both the company that was her crucible, the legendary Kirov, and the company she helped elevate to a new artistic standard in the 1980s, American Ballet Theatre. Authoritative, articulate, revealing, inspiring, Dancing on Water is a page-turning journey into the inner sanctums of ballet—and a work of quiet bravura!”

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