“Touching and beautiful; Lee Wilson is an inspiration to us all for finding a passion in life and moving beyond familial pressures and societal norms.”—Zippora Karz, former soloist, New York City Ballet
“The culture of the ballet world is divulged in all its glorious detail. Wilson’s compelling account of her training and career shows the true courage and persistence this profession requires.”—Ali Duffy, founder and choreographer, Flatlands Dance Theatre
“Lee brings to her writing the same keen intelligence she brought to her dancing. It is a joy to relive some of the important moments of ballet history with her and to empathize as she uses her dance career to gain the independence and freedom she perceived as lacking for women like her mother only one generation earlier.”—Maina Gielgud, former director, The Australian Ballet
In this uplifting memoir, Lee Wilson describes how she grand jetéd from the stifling suburbia of the 1950s, a world of rigid gender roles, to the only domain where women and men were equally paid and equally respected—in grand, historic dance theaters and under the bright lights of the Broadway stage.
Short, plump, pigeon-toed, and never good enough for mom, Lee Wilson dared to dream she could grow up to be a star. In 1962, fresh out of high school and a mere sixteen years old, Wilson left her country and the comforts of home to make the five-day journey across the Atlantic. She saw Europe as an attractive alternative to New York, where great American ballet companies were struggling to survive. That same year, Wilson made her professional debut in Monte Carlo in a command performance for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The following summer, as she danced across Europe, she thrilled to the sound of her first bravos—and never looked back.
After touring Europe and dancing with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York, Wilson set her sights on Broadway, where she danced in many famous shows including Hello Dolly! She was in the original national company of A Chorus Line and played Patty in the original Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Rebel on Pointe immerses the reader in a remarkable and visionary world. It lifts the veil of myth surrounding legendary dance icons like George Balanchine, Rosella Hightower, Erik Bruhn, and Rudolf Nureyev to reveal the real men and women who have influenced and embodied the world of dance.
Wilson expertly depicts how her profession—at times considered so rigid and exacting—was a leading force in the liberation of women from the prison of patriarchal post-war society. The hard-won gains and the maddening setbacks of the gender revolution are seen here through the eyes of a young dancer searching for freedom, one “pas” at a time.
|Publisher:||University Press of Florida|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Lee Wilson danced for royalty in Europe, gun-toting revolutionaries in Algeria, American aristocrats at the Metropolitan Opera, and a galaxy of stars on Broadway. She is an award-winning writer, producer, and actor living in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
1 I Discover Dance, 1946-1954 1
2 My Formative Teachers, 1954-1957 15
3 Dance Requires Grit, 1957-1959 25
4 Academic Hurdles, 1959-1961 42
5 Falling in Love with New York, Spring 1961 42
6 At the Ballet Theatre School, Summer 1961 65
7 Stars in Madame Pereyaslavec's Class, 1961-1962 82
8 Rosella Hightower, Cannes, and Monte Carlo, 1962 102
9 Bruhn, Nureyev, and Paris, 1963 125
10 Maina Gielgud, Pas de Quatre, and Vichy, 1963 139
11 Algeria, Naples, and Bordeaux, 1963-1964 161
12 Alicia Markova and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, 1964-1967 178
13 Hello, Broadway! 1967 192
Selected Bibliography 203
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What an inspiration! Being a baby boomer myself, I understood Wilson's desire to escape the suburban dead-end that so many bright and capable women were forced into back in the 1950s and 60s. I loved how Wilson framed her memoirs within the female-dominated world of dance, and of course it didn't hurt that she was incredibly talented! Wilson's writing style is both humorous and informative; I was spellbound as I read about the famous dancers and ballet teachers she worked with. The book brought back happy memories of my childhood, watching a ballet performed live and thrilling with every arabesque and pas de deux. I highly recommend this book!
I found Rebel on Pointe absolutely fascinating and extremely compelling. When this very young pigeon-toed little girl finds a way to escape sexism in the 20th Century through dance, (as a side bar, men will not find this offensive) her very brave journey became mine. Her writing is keenly descriptive, filled with inspiration, sadness, humor and pathos. Lee Wilson's tremendous knowledge of European and American History is so informative, informative in a way that once again, made me feel as though I were there. A sixteen-year-old girl making her professional debut in a command performance for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace in Monte Carlo. A hair-raising performance in Algeria for gun-toting revolutionaries. And the sheer joy of dancing on Broadway. I love cliffhangers and she has a bunch which kept pulling me forward, I think you will feel the same way! Thanks Lee for the Dance.....BarBara Luna
Lee Wilson's "Rebel on Pointe" is amazingly timely for women: the right for equal pay and recognition, considering the latest "faux-pas" by CEO of Microsoft regarding women and "Karma" in seeking raises- and this is 2014! Ms. Wilson intimately brings the reader in with wanting more than the many repressed lives of 1950 "housewives" and the few women of the workforce she witnessed. Her courageous drive, discipline, and "self-educating" instincts as a young teen-ager to seek something more, "to get out", shows how it can be done! As colleagues of the Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway musical, "A Chorus Line", Lee vividly displays the life she led exemplifying the title song, "What I Did For Love". This book is inspiring to young and old alike - to think smart and go for your dreams. Thank you Lee Wilson. Sincerely, Cheryl Clark