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In this autobiography, American ballet dancer Edward Villella speaks frankly about the cost associated with his success - and the glory. He shows what it was like for a kid from Queens to find himself, with little preparation, a prodigy of George Balanchine's School of American Ballet. Balanchine was mentor to Edward Villella for more than 30 years. Demanding, brilliant, aloof and manipulative, Balanchine reserved his approval and affection for female dancers who served as his mistresses and muses. Villella shares the joy and frustration of working with one of the century's true artistic geniuses who expected greatness with little guidance. He takes the reader inside the often tense backstage life at the New York City Ballet where Balanchine ruled, favouring the women who inspired him, subjecting others to the dictates of his obsessive desire for control. In addition to the insight on Balanchine, Villella offers portraits of Lincoln Kirstein, Igor Stravinsky, Jerome Robbins, Stanley Williams, Patricia McBride, Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, Violette Verdy, and Jaques D'Amboise. He also describes his role as artistic director of Miami City Ballet, a role that he envisions as an oppurtunity to pass on Balanchine's legacy, t only the ballets themselves, but the elements necessary for performing them, the approach to technique, to phrasing and to music, and he considers what must be done to preserve this important body of work - and the endangered art of ballet itself.
Edward Villella is America's most celebrated male dancer, associated with many of the greatest roles in the New York City Ballet repertory. Larry Kaplan is a frequent contributor to Ballet Review and has written in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.