Serenade: A Balanchine Story

Serenade: A Balanchine Story

by Toni Bentley
Serenade: A Balanchine Story

Serenade: A Balanchine Story

by Toni Bentley


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Toni Bentley, a dancer for George Balanchine, the greatest ballet maker of the 20th century, tells the story of Serenade, his iconic masterpiece, and what it was like to dance—and live—in his world at New York City Ballet during its legendary era.

"Reading Bentley's Serenade made me feel as alive as I felt on the stage the moment that I fell in love with ballet…. [A] delicate balance of personal memoir, rarefied elegance, history of the arts and pure human interest.”—Misty Copeland, New York Times Book Review

"[A] unique document about one of the greatest ballets ever created…. A beautiful read”—Mikhail Baryshnikov

At age seventeen, Toni Bentley was chosen by Balanchine, then in his final years, to join the New York City Ballet. From both backstage and onstage, she carries us through the serendipitous history and physical intricacies and demands of Serenade: its dazzling opening, with seventeen women in a double-diamond pattern; its radical, even jazzy, use of the highly refined language that is ballet; its place in the choreographer’s own dramatic story of his immigration to the United States from Soviet Russia; its mystical—and literal—embodiment of the tradition of classical ballet in just thirty-three minutes.

Bentley takes us inside the rarefied, intense, and thrilling world Balanchine created through his lifelong devotion to celebrating and expanding female beauty and strength—a world that, inevitably, passed upon his death. An intimate elegy to grace and loss and to the imprint of a towering artist and his transcendent creation on Bentley’s own life, Serenade: A Balanchine Story is a rich narrative by a dynamic artist about the nature of art itself at its most ephemeral and glorious.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593316399
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/12/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 518,599
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

TONI BENTLEY danced with George Balanchine's New York City Ballet for ten years. She is the author of five New York Times Notable Books, including Winter Season: A Dancer’s Journal, Holding On to the Air (coauthored with Suzanne Farrell), and The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. Bentley is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has appeared in The Best American Essays as well as in many periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Review of Books, The Daily Beast, Vogue, and Vanity Fair.

Table of Contents

Curtain Up xi

Introduction xvii

1 Audience 3

2 Initiation 14

3 Mr. B 22

4 Sixteen 33

5 1934 38

6 Turnout 49

7 Pointe 66

8 The Great Run 77

9 John's Geometry 83

10 Stonehenge 90

11 Waltz 102

12 Little Georgi 109

13 The American 124

14 The Composer 133

15 Transitions 150

16 The Other Balletmaster 155

17 Hopping 168

18 Anarchists 176

19 Cupid's Kiss 188

20 Maria's Arabesque 200

21 Vitruvian Man 208

22 Charlie's Angels 216

23 Destiny 226

Curtain Down 234

Coda 243

Epilogue 245

Acknowledgments 251

Notes 253

Bibliography 267

Index 275

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