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The world's most famous choreographer becomes infatuated with a coltish young dancer who proves both siren and muse. A rising star plunges into an affair with a principal but finds that ecstasy on the stage can't be surpassed in the bed. A dying legend reflects on the evanescent beauty of a life of gesture, lost to everything but memory.

Each bittersweet story plants the reader amid a cast of dancers and choreographers who struggle—valiantly, playfully, fiercely—to find in the rigorous discipline and animating beauty of ballet a counterbalance to the chaos of unscripted life. Many of the tales dare to imagine the inner lives of the century's titans—Balanchine, Fonteyn and Nureyev—which rival in emotional complexity and pathos the classic dramas they enacted onstage: La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Swan Lake.

White Swan, Black Swan translates the pure and essential gestures of ballet into starkly elegant prose while showing the sweat and sex beneath the serene surface. Adrienne Sharp's debut is a bravura performance.

From the Hardcover edition.

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