Book Review: With Ballet in My Soul

If you are visiting this site, chances are good that you have heard of or read Misty Copeland’s gracious and inspiring memoir. Or maybe Gelsey Kirkland’s memoir, ‘Dancing on my Grave’ which is a scandalous, exciting historical read. Or maybe if you want an insight into the beginnings of the modern dance scene and a window into a truly crazy person, you have checked out “My Life’ by Isadora Duncan (or as she is elsewhere known, Trash in the International Dance Treasure’).

While these three recollections of a life in the dance world are incredibly diverse in their tone and experiences, they do have one thing in common; they are written by a celebrity dancer from their lofty position in the spotlight. Being already familiar with the author’s life gives their memoir a nice sense of personal experience in the performances and relationships which brought them fame but it’s not very surprising, is it? Who else rushes through Kirkland’s biography just looking for relationship drama with Baryshnikov? Just me?

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A new memoir in the dance scene arrived on my doorstep from an author I was unfamiliar with. This beautiful recollection from Eva Maze describes her life as an impresario, working and rubbing shoulders with many famed dancers and companies. Here’s a bit from the press release:

The rich life of a woman committed to a professional vision ahead of its time, filled with glamour, excitement, and adventure is truly remarkable. Narrated in her own words, this is the story of such a woman, Eva Maze, who, from the time she left Romania as a teenager in 1939, dreamed of being a ballet dancer, and through a series of circumstances, became instead on of the first and most successful female theatrical impresarios in Europe- especially in Germany- with a career that lasted more than 40 years.

I read the whole book in two days. It is a story for the history lovers, the travel junkies, the celebrity groupies, the collectors, and above all, those like Maze and myself who can’t imagine life without dance. It is a visual feast with photographs, old programs, ticket stubs, and performance posters from her work with companies like Alvin Ailey and West Side Story. The story dances around the globe with experiences in Paris, Berlin, New York, New Delhi and more. It is an incredible documentary of dance as it matters to particular places in isolated periods of time and as it continues to matter within the heart and soul of an inspiring woman.

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Look! It’s Gelsey and Mikhail

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It is all too easy to become absorbed in Maze’s fascinating life, to take in her words and experiences so beautifully crafted and expressed, much like ballet itself. Though I admit I had not heard of her prior to reading her book, this is a person I feel that I’ve had a conversation, and education, and a bond with as the pages slipped away.

While  taking class in New York, running into dance icons such as Margot Fonteyn and Erik Bruh, she recalls, “I had come to realize that all studios, regardless of their locations, convey a similar sense of familiarity. It seems to kick in automatically as soon as you enter the room and begin to dance, whether it’s your first time there or not”. In ballet, we share the structure, the demands, the traditions that exist across cultures and time. In that sense, the story is new, informative, exciting but the soul of a ballet lover is somehow familiar, automatic, and shared in this book.

The book is available Spring 2017, published through Moonstone Press LLC with full national distribution for online local bookstores and libraries. More information here: www.moonstonepress.net

New $2.00 book I found at Strand

New $2.00 book I found at Strand

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