Toni Bentley, The Surrender, Author, New York Times
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See Upcoming Events for Serenade: A Balanchine Story


 

Reviews for Serenade:A Balanchine Story

 


Daphne Merkin on Serenade: A Balanchine Story by Toni Bentley

"In this beautiful, affecting book . . . an unabashed, heartfelt love letter to Balanchine . . .  Bentley, a poetic writer, eloquently captures the essence of Serenade . . . [which] she describes as a map of Balanchine's soul . . . She dissects this 32-minute ballet in precise, unflinching detail, interweaving reminiscences of her time at the School of American Ballet, which she attended from the age of 10, and life inside the New York City Ballet . . . This moving  book will not only appeal to lovers of ballet, it will make wistful reading for those dancers who will never have the good fortune to work with such a genius as George Balanchine." 

-Moira HodgsonWall Street Journal

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Daphne Merkin on Serenade: A Balanchine Story by Toni Bentley

"Bentley, who danced under Balanchine's direction at the New York City Ballet for a decade in the 1970s and 80s, tells a history that is as vivid and poetic as the dance itself . . . Serenade is about more than the making of a single ballet; it is an introspective nod to the life lessons taught through movement . . . I felt the spirit of the movements through Bentley's descriptive prose. She weaves in impressive detail about the actual technique of ballet, articulating the dancer's physical experience for the reader . . . Reading Bentley's Serenade made me feel as alive as I felt on the stage the moment that I fell in love with ballet: with its grounded fantasy, physical demands, intellectual challenge, structure and beauty . . . Serenade is a book that will delight balletomanes for generations to come; but it will also appeal to those newer to the dance world, with its delicate balance of personal memoir, rarefied elegance, history of the arts and pure human interest."

-Misty CopelandNew York Times Book Review

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Daphne Merkin on Serenade: A Balanchine Story by Toni Bentley

"Taking its title [Serenade] from that of George Balanchine's first American ballet, which premièred in 1934, this personal history by a former New York City Ballet dancer blends various accounts of the work's—and the company's—creation and evolution. In addition to providing a wealth of ballet lore, trivia, and insightful interpretation, Bentley is not afraid to get technical; she describes steps, combinations, entrances, and exits from the perspective of the corps. In endeavoring to conjure the transcendent lyricism of Balanchine's vision and Tchaikovsky's score, the book goes further, touching on deeper, stranger ideas about the symbiosis between life and art."

-The New Yorker

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A review of Serenade: A Balanchine Story in National Review

"Written from the heart as much as the head...Serenade: A Balanchine Story, [Bentley's] brilliant new book-length meditation on Balanchine's greatest ballet . . . is ultimately far more interesting than just another cultural history: With her rare combination of access to Balanchine and her genuine literary ability . . . she writes with grace and gratitude . . . It's [her] personal voice that makes this book consistently engaging, and her enthusiasm is catching . . . Bentley is no longer a young girl, but her love for Balanchine has remained true, and with this splendid account, she has honored an incomparable artistic romance."

-Peter TonguetteNational Review

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Daphne Merkin on Serenade: A Balanchine Story by Toni Bentley

"Beautifully composed [Serenade] provides a three-dimensional experience of Balanchine's titular ballet: historical, artistic and personal. Between chapters narrated in the first person—putting readers onstage within the ballet's split-second timing and exact positioning—Bentley provides fascinating background on Balanchine . . . As in all her books, she gives generously of her finely tuned emotions, her experience and her own polished opinions. In short, Serenade: A Balanchine Story has earned a place on the shelf."  

- Martha Anne Toll, Pointe Magazine 

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Daphne Merkin on Serenade: A Balanchine Story by Toni Bentley

“Toni Bentley’s Serenade is in a category all its own—at once an ode to the rigor and passion necessary to create great art and a pointillist description of its making. It is also the story of the embracing yet exacting Balanchine lending his genius to a young woman’s life. It will consume anyone interested in the generative force that comes from the devoted pursuit of a vocation; you needn’t know the difference between a tendu and an arabesque, a prima ballerina and a member of the corps, to be captured by its poetic prose and ingenious structure. This is a transporting reading experience, written with fervor and discernment, and a moving testament to the possibilities that lie within each of us.”

-Daphne Merkin, literary critic, memoirist, and novelist

review
"[A] touching and eloquent tribute . . . a rich elegy to Bentley's dancing career . . . Her command of ballet and its history is breathtaking, and her reverence for Balanchine's genius is consistently moving. This behind-the-scenes tour of a rarefied world will enchant." 

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"Bentley writes as she once danced, with grace and elegance, as she captures the haunting beauty of an art form that exists to be seen and experienced . . . [she] saves her effusive descriptions for the dance, for her very personal experiences in the 10 years she spent with the company (from the mid-1970s to the '80s), and for the brilliance of Balanchine . . . A touching tribute to a master, this work will delight balletomanes."

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"Effervescent . . . Serenade endearingly captures Bentley's passion for ballet . . . A heartfelt tribute to an influential choreographer and one of his crowning achievements." 

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Toni Bentley in the New York Times Book Review
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