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First Love

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Adam and Sandra are ballet dancers, friends since they were fifteen, and now lovers. Sandra is a dancer in the corps of the New York City Ballet who has just caught George Balanchine's eye. Adam is an explosively gifted new star who has defected to the rival company, the American Ballet Theatre. They are in love, passionate and ambitious, but ill-prepared to handle the demands, seductions, and expectations that are visited on them as they come within reach of their dreams.

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Overview

Adam and Sandra are ballet dancers, friends since they were fifteen, and now lovers. Sandra is a dancer in the corps of the New York City Ballet who has just caught George Balanchine's eye. Adam is an explosively gifted new star who has defected to the rival company, the American Ballet Theatre. They are in love, passionate and ambitious, but ill-prepared to handle the demands, seductions, and expectations that are visited on them as they come within reach of their dreams.

The novel proceeds from a true premise: Since the beginning of his career, Balanchine sought to create an opulent ballet from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, but never had the means and the muse come together at the same time. In First Love, Adrienne Sharp conjures in Sandra a last muse for the ailing ballet master. Balanchine promises to make Sleeping Beauty for her, and that it will be his final and greatest ballet. But Balanchine's favor comes at a price, and Sandra is forced to decide which of her loves comes first. Should she continue her tumultuous involvement with the first boy to capture her heart and succumb to his vision of their future? Or should she accept all that Balanchine offers-the fulfillment of a dream nurtured from childhood during endless hours at the barre?

A former ballet dancer herself, Adrienne Sharp's first book was the acclaimed short-story collection White Swan, Black Swan. Sharp's debut novel features the same marvelous storytelling as it revisits the vivid and rarefied world of dancers, and the sacrifices and hard bargains they make in pursuit of beauty, grace, and consummate passion.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Sharp's bewitchingly sensual and trenchant tale embodies the sublime and the monstrous aspects of dance... (starred review)
San Francisco Chronicle
For high drama and steamy sex delivered with craft, take First Love to the beach.
Publishers Weekly
Former ballerina Sharp presents a sentimental portrait of two ballet dancers, Sandra Ellis and Adam LaSalle, in her debut novel (after her collection White Swan, Black Swan). Best friends since the age of 15, Sandra and Adam become lovers in their 20s, by which point Adam has left Balanchine's New York City Ballet for starring roles with Baryshnikov's American Ballet Theater, while Sandra remains a loyal member of the corps. Sharp frames the novel, set in the '80s, with the fairy tale of "Sleeping Beauty," a story that Balanchine had in reality always wanted to choreograph but never fully did. Here, though, Sandra serves as the inspiration for Balanchine's staging of the tale: she catches his eye because of the passion Adam has awoken, and Balanchine plucks her from the corps to transform her into a principal dancer in the epic. But Sandra struggles to choose between her relationship with Adam and the total commitment and sacrifice she believes Balanchine requires. The point of view shifts between each corner of this triangle, often dragging with Adam and Sandra's inner monologues but sparkling with Balanchine's richly reimagined story. Sharp offers a detailed insider view of the ballet world, but her love story, though intelligently written, can mire in the maudlin. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
First novelist and author of the short story collection White Swan, Black Swan, Sharp, a former dancer, uses the New York City ballet world as a backdrop for a mesmerizing tale of what-if. Based on the life and work of ballet master George Balanchine, this novel looks at what could have been had the dancer and choreographer realized his dream of staging the Sleeping Beauty ballet before his death in 1983. This dream is made possible through his discovery of young ballerina Sandra Ellis, whom he uses as his final muse. But complications with her troubled father and ballet star boyfriend, Adam LaSalle, take her in directions that Balanchine disapproves. Running parallel to Balanchine's story is that of Sandra and Adam and their intense, if not occasionally unhealthy, love for each other and the very different ways in which they express their devotion. Sandra must cope with Adam's fierce longing for her and his destructive and disloyal behavior when he is away on tour, while Adam must struggle with Sandra's blas attitude toward her own existence and obsessive devotion to Balanchine. All of these issues factor into a stark look at what first love can be like, with all its twists, turns, and, inevitably, pain. Recommended for all library collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/05.]-Leann Restaino, Girard, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573223102
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrienne Sharp is the author of the short-story collection White Swan, Black Swan, which was a national bestseller. She studied ballet from the age of seven and trained with the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York City. She received an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a fellowship in fiction at the University of Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2005

    chilling, compelling, beautiful

    i read this book in 2 days. it's not some lovey dovey romance novel like the title and cover suggests. very post-modern. i was so moved and engrossed. the sentiments in the novel are compelling. set in the world of ballet, it explores the many facets of love: selfish, obessive, and unconditional. and their consequences. its coldness gradually seeps into its reader and pitches the reader head first into the tunnel visioned frustration of its characters, the aching feeling of loneliness even when ur with someone, and the depressive state of mind of abandonment. i don't even know if the book was good on a literary level. i can't even talk about it objectively because i am still so emotionally wrapped up inside the plot and its characters. a must read if u love dance. i wish it could be made into a movie just so i can see the visual renderings of all the wonderful imagery in the book.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific what if alternate recent history tale

    They met as teens and fell in and remain in love. Adam LaSalle and Sandra Ellis are talented ballet dancers, whose careers are just taking off with both looking like future superstars. Sandra dances for George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet while Adam performs with the rival American Ballet Theatre troupe.................... In the early 1980s, the ailing master choreographer Balanchine thinks he has found his muse to star as Sleeping Beauty when he sees Sandra. He knows she is his last chance to put on the fairy tale production he has dreamed of performing for what seems eternity. However, Balanchine expects Sandra to obey everything he demands from her; which includes putting her personal life on hold. Adam has other plans for his beloved to dance on stage and off together. Sandra must choose which love takes precedence knowing that whoever she rejects will be crushed................ FIRST LOVE is a terrific what if alternate recent history tale that builds around the dream of the late legendary George Balanchine wanting to put on a special production of Sleeping Beauty, but in real life never found his star ¿muse¿. The story line focuses on Sandra whose loves clash as she wants to be all she can be in ballet, but also desires to be with her beloved Adam. The three men in her life (which includes her father) pull her in an opposite vortex as if she is the center of a triangle. Readers will appreciate this fabulous ballet character study starring a terrific cast and paying homage to a great master................. Harriet Klausner

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    Posted November 15, 2008

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    Posted November 8, 2011

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    Posted August 3, 2010

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