Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
"Ballet is about as transparent as the federal government, which means that a very small percentage of its backstage business makes it into the public eye. Author Stephen Manes is about to change all of that with his new book."
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear zooms in on an intimate view of one full season in the life of one of America's top ballet companies and schools: Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet. But it also tracks the Land of Ballet to venues as celebrated as New York and Monte Carlo and as seemingly ordinary as Bellingham, Washington and small-town Pennsylvania. Never before has a book taken readers backstage for such a wide-ranging view of the ballet world from the wildly diverse perspectives of dancers, choreographers, stagers, teachers, conductors, musicians, rehearsal pianists, lighting directors, costumers, stage managers, scenic artists, marketers, fundraisers, students, and even pointe shoe fitters--often in their own remarkably candid words.
The book follows characters as colorful as they are talented. Versatile dancers from around the globe team up with novice choreographers and those as renowned as Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, and Twyla Tharp to create art on deadline. At the book's center is Peter Boal, a former New York City Ballet star in his third year as PNB's artistic director, as he manages conflicting constituencies with charm, tact, rationality and diplomacy. Readers look over Boal's shoulder as he makes tough decisions about programming, casting, scheduling and budgeting that eventually lead the calm, low-key leader to declare that in his job, "You have to be willing to be hated."
Shattering longstanding die-for-your-art stereotypes, this book uncovers the real drama in the daily lives of fiercely dedicated union members in slippers and pointe shoes-and the musicians, stagehands, costumers, donors and administrators who support them. Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet brings readers the exciting truth of how ballet actually happens.
"An engrossing read . . . unparallelled . . . lively prose and an almost indecent amount of information about how the cogs in a ballet company all turn . . . I found it hard to tear myself away from the characters after the book had ended."
- Cadwallader & Stern, September 2011
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