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Prodigal Son Paperback – April 2, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (April 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822956667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822956662
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,123,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An acclaimed New York City Ballet dancer of the 1960s and '70s, Miami City Ballet founding artistic director Villella has always labored in the shadow of two stern fathers--his own and choreographer George Balanchine. His autobiography, coauthored with Kaplan (collaborator with Merrill Ashley on Dancing For Balanchine ), offers a welcome addition to Balanchine chronicles; it could also be considered a dual biography of the dancer and his difficult mentor. Growing up in working-class Queens, New York, the young Villella played sandlot baseball, brawled and boxed, finding his vocation in dance only by chance. He trained at the School of American Ballet, then spent most of his NYCB career "on the outs with Mr. B."306 Yet their perennial conflicts somehow won Villella's enduring loyalty to the choreographer. And although the narrative is frank, fair, earthy, direct, its peculiar perspective of the dancer as a forgiving underdog superstar gives the story needed bite. Most valuable are Villella's reflections on the ballets Balanchine created on him.stet/MM A true prodigal, Villella emerges triumphant from Balanchine's unique academy of hard knocks. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Villella was a star among stars, the athletic all-American boy of the New York City Ballet from the late 1950's through the 70's. His career spanned ``a golden age of ballet, an amazing era in which George Balanchine single-handedly transformed the art. I watched him do it. I was part of it all.'' Villella's account of those years is as straightforward and forthright as this dancer himself. Villella followed his sister into ballet classes at age nine- -risky business for a boy in Bayside, Queens. A year later, he was accepted into the School of American Ballet, NYCB's training ground. Villella went on to spend his entire performing career with NYCB and Balanchine. At his parents' insistence, he left dance for four years to complete a bachelor's degree--a hiatus that had physical ramifications for the rest of his career. However, those years ``gave me another perspective on dancing and kept me from becoming too ascetic and pretentious.'' And certainly Villella held himself apart from most of the company; without rancor, he additionally attributes this to his short stature (5`8'') and consequent need to fight for new roles, his heterosexuality, and his eternally difficult relationship with Balanchine. The two never had an open, relaxed relationship: ``I was unusually tongue-tied around him....He made me uncomfortable because he was so sure of himself and his art.'' Villella's decision not to take Balanchine's famous--and peculiar--classes because he found them physically destructive further distanced him: ``Until his dying day I don't think he forgave me for not praying at his altar.'' There are plenty of sidelights here as well: tales of tours, other dancers, company intrigues. And Villella gives a complete account of his devastating, career-ending injuries, as well as of how he found his way to be the phenomenally successful artistic director of the Miami City Ballet. Throughout, Villella appears as his immensely talented, intelligent, self-absorbed, and opinionated self: a cleareyed account of a most remarkable career in a remarkable time. (Thirty- two pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By miteki on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Edward Villella's passion for dance jumps off the pages.Diplomatic but honest, this is one of my favorite autobiographies by a former Balanchine dancer (or dancer period).It is a book where as I approached the end I felt sad...I didn't want it to end! If Mr. Villella ever reads this commentary I have a request: PLEASE write a book regarding all you have learned regarding technique.Your passion and detail moved and inspired me!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was so enchanted with the story of Edward Villella's life that I found it impossible to put the book down and it prompted me to write my first review! He not only tells you about an exciting time in ballet of which he was a part of - you also feel each moment with him. His hard work, the competitiveness, the disappointments, his success all flows into a story that leaves you no doubt of the love and passion that he has for dance. It's a fitting ending to know that he's now passing this on to other dancers. I'm just sorry I never saw him dance...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a dancer in Edward Villella's acclaimed Miami City Ballet and I would like to say (as biased as it may seem) that this is a must read. If you are a ballet dancer, or even a ballet fan, please purchase this book. It is a unique look at how men thrive in this dance world and still come out looking like men. It takes you deep into the world of ballet..the parts that most people don't see. Edward explains all of the secrets past the pink tutus and pointe shoes and shows what it's really like the be a part of our world. He is an amazing man with a facinating career and I urge you to buy this book because of that. You won't regret it!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charlette Robichaud on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This was a wonderful book! It was so well written that it was almost as if Edward Villella were sitting in front of me telling me his life story. It was honest and heartfelt. I was glad that he not only told of his experiences with Balanchine but also of his life. In doing so, it personalizes his experiences and helps the reader to see him as a real person. This is not some stuffy biography! It is easily one of the best books I have read in years! I could not put it down.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jewel Shervanick on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although not a literary masterpiece, it is an easy read. It was important historically to write this book. It helped put much into perspective, and documented an impactful life. As a late babyboomer child, I adored watching him dance on television. He made ballet interesting and exciting. I also met him at Illinois Wesleyan University in the late 70s when he was on the speaker's circuit. Now I know why he was lecturing at that time. His openness about his own weaknesses was delivered well without being too specific or tacky. Villella's strengths, however, were very well portrayed. As a long-time fan, it was important for me to see that he grew/integrated into not just a talent, but a good man/husband/father/mentor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This autobiography gives a very interesting account of the authors life in dance under the direction of George Balanchine. The reading is very fast, as it keeps your attention, and there are photos inserted in the book that give more insight on the authors life and family. One gains an appreciation of the difficulties and joys of being a professional dancer while reading the book, and also insight on what it was like to work under Balanchine. A fine book for everyone interested in the personal lives of those who dance professionally.
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