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Dancing on Water
A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT
Elena Tchernichova, Joel Lobenthal; Joseph Brodsky, afterword

2013 • 328 pp. 30 illus. 6 x 9"
Biography - Entertainment & Performing Arts / Ballet

$35.00 Hardcover, 978-1-55553-792-0

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-55553-824-8

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“The voice in the book is excellent company, as Tchernichova endures growing pains, backstage intrigues, and the shocks of emigration... This book offers a fascinating portrait of a surprisingly open-minded ballet intellectual.”—Dance Magazine

The pageantry and drama of a life in dance

Dancing on Water is both a personal coming-of-age story and a sweeping look at ballet life in Russia and the United States during the golden age of dance. Elena Tchernichova takes us from her childhood during the siege of Leningrad to her mother’s alcoholism and suicide, and from her adoption by Kirov ballerina Tatiana Vecheslova, who entered her into the state ballet school, to her career in the American Ballet Theatre.

As a student and young dancer with the Kirov, she witnessed the company’s achievements as a citadel of classic ballet, home to legendary names—Shelest, Nureyev, Dudinskaya, Baryshnikov—but also a hotbed of intrigue and ambition run amok. As ballet mistress of American Ballet Theatre from 1978 to 1990, Elena was called “the most important behind-the-scenes force for change in ballet today,” by Vogue magazine. She coached stars and corps de ballet alike, and helped mold the careers of some of the great dancers of the age, including Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, and Alexander Godunov. Dancing on Water is a tour de force, exploring the highest levels of the world of dance.

Reviews / Endorsements

“A book as illuminating as it is interesting, revelatory about how ballet works, and fascinating as an account of a life devoted to an art—and to survival.”—Robert Gottlieb, New York Review of Books

“Rudolf Nureyev, Natasha Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, George Balanchine—these are gods as far as I’m concerned, and we see them here onstage, backstage, and offstage, human-scaled and yet capable of transcendence in performance that makes ballet the most fourth-dimensional of arts.”—James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

“The Russian classical dance tradition and its postwar relationship with ballet in the West is a story that’s usually told on the fly by defecting stars. In the memoir Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, the renowned teacher and director Elena Tchernichova, a classmate and colleague of Nureyev, Baryshnikov, and Makarova, offers an intimate view of the aesthetic ideals and political compromises that defined both the company that was her crucible, the legendary Kirov, and the company she helped elevate to a new artistic standard in the 1980s, American Ballet Theatre. Authoritative, articulate, revealing, inspiring, Dancing on Water is a page-turning journey into the inner sanctums of ballet—and a work of quiet bravura!”—Laura Jacobs, contributing editor, Vanity Fair and author of Landscape with Moving Figures: A Decade on Dance

ELENA TCHERNICHOVA has spent her life in dance in Russia, the United States, and Europe. She lives in St. Petersburg. JOEL LOBENTHAL is associate editor of the quarterly Ballet Review, and author of Tallulah! The Life and Times of a Leading Lady. JOSEPH BRODSKY was a Russian-American poet and essayist, former US Poet Laureate, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1996.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:11:29 -0500