Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection

Book - 2012
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Throughout her history, the ballerina has been perceived as the embodiment of beauty and perfection, the feminine ideal. But the reality is another story. From the earliest ballerinas in the 17th century-- who often led double lives as concubines-- through the poverty of the corps de ballet dancers in the 1800's and the anorexic and bulimic ballerinas of George Balanchine, starvation and exploitation have plagued ballerinas throughout history. Using the stories of great dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, and Evelyn Hart, Deirdre Kelly exposes the true rigors for women in ballet. She rounds her critique with examples of how the world of ballet is slowly evolving for the better. But to ensure that this most graceful of dance forms survives into the future, she says that the time has come to rethink ballet, to position the ballerina at its center and accord her the respect she deserves.
Publisher: Vancouver, BC : Greystone Books, 2012.
ISBN: 9781926812663
Call Number: 792.8 KELLY
Characteristics: ix, 254 p., [22] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm
Subjects: Ballerinas.
Ballerinas -- Biography.
Ballet dancing -- History.
Ballet dancing -- Social aspects.


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Jan 26, 2018

Loved this book so much I'm buying it, thank you OPL for stocking it!!

genevieveleclair Jun 26, 2013


This meticulously researched book begins with a startling and horrifying incident. Author Deirdre Kelly then proceeds to detail the history of the ballerina with a plethora of names, dates and locales which sometimes read like a text book. However, there are enough anecdotes of the dancers' struggles that one's interest is heightened to the point of wishing for a better outcome. This book is a rude awakening to a seemingly sublime world.

Genevieve LeClair

May 28, 2013

A decent take on the development and life of a ballerina. I would've liked to see more on how things are changing outside of Canada.


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