Holding On to the Air: An Autobiography / Edition 1

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"Absolutely spellbinding: ballerina Farrell's autobiography is the story of someone doing exactly what she wanted in life, and loving every minute of it. Through her work with George Balanchine, it is also the story of one of the greatest artistic collaborations in dance. . . . An uplifting, splendid memoir."--Kirkus

"An extraordinarily moving story."--New York Times Book Review

"Farrell's story is not only that of a great dancer but of a great star. . . . this book is important. The subject is great, the views of Balanchine are real and unique."--Washington Post Book World

Suzanne Farrell, world-renowned ballerina, was one of George Balanchine's most celebrated muses and remains a legendary figure in the ballet world. This memoir, first published in 1990 and reissued with a new preface by the author, recounts Farrell's transformation from a young girl in Ohio dreaming of greatness to the realization of that dream on stages all over the world.  Central to this transformation was her relationship with George Balanchine, who invited her to join the New York City Ballet in the fall of 1961 and was in turn inspired by her unique combination of musical, physical, and dramatic gifts. He created masterpieces for her in which the limits of ballet technique were expanded to a degree not seen before.  By the time she retired from the stage in 1989, Farrell had achieved a career that is without precedent in the history of ballet. One third of her repertory of more than 100 ballets were composed expressly for her by such notable choreographers as Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Maurice Bejart.  Farrell recalls professional and personal attachments and their attendant controversies with a down-to-earth frankness and common sense that complements the glories and mysteries of her artistic achievement.  

Suzanne Farrell has staged Balanchine’s ballets in New York, Boston, Seattle, and Miami and for the Vienna Opera Ballet, the Kirov, and the Bolshoi. She is the subject of an Academy Award nominated documentary, Suzanne Farrell--Elusive Muse. A professor of dance at Florida State University in Tallahassee, she also teaches a summer ballet course at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2000, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet was launched as an ongoing partnership with the Kennedy Center.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Farrell, for years the chief muse of New York City Ballet cofounder and master choreographer George Balanchine, has led an extraordinary, frequently controversial life. Here with former NYCB dancer Bentley, she tells of it with humility, integrity, wit and sophistication. Farrell's is first of all a classically American story of a self-made woman: growing up a tomboy and a dance student in a broken home in Cincinnati, Ohio, she struck out at 15 for Manhattan with her mother and sisters on the chance that she might be accepted into the famed School of American Ballet. Discovered, aesthetically molded and eventually wooed by Russian-born Balanchine, she left NYCB in 1969 after it became apparent that her husband, dancer Paul Mejia, could have no career there so long as Mr. B.'s jealous moods prevailed. Farrell returned to the company in 1974 and retired in 1989 at the age of 44, one of the century's greatest ballerinas. The details of her decades as a dancer vie in interest here with those of her private self; she is both discreet and incisive in her views of on- and offstage events. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The dance world has been waiting to hear Farrell's story ever since this noted ballerina retired from the New York City Ballet in 1989, six years after the death of NYCB director George Balanchine, acknowledged choreographic genius of this century. As Balanchine's muse and center of his attentions, she collaborated with him in the creation of his most enduring ballets. Though she could not reciprocate in kind when he fell in love with her, she speaks with real feeling of their mutual devotion, which found its physical consummation in their work together at the ballet studio and in her performances for him onstage. The book's highest appeal will be to the dance audience; ballet students and fans will find it fascinating. It is essential for any performing arts collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/90.-- Sheila Riley, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813025933
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 248,706
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.83 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    Wonderful book for young dancers

    I began reading this book while i was in study hall in my boarding school's library and being a ballerina myself, it became something i looked forward to every night. It really helped extend my knowledge of the various ballets Suzanne Farrell was in and I now know so much more about ballet as a result. I really recommend it to anyone interested in dance, particularly ballet.

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    Posted December 30, 2008

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