From Publishers Weekly
The dance world becomes palpably real in this accomplished debut collection by Sharp, a former member of the Harkness Ballet of New York, as she explores both the exultation and the physical and emotional stresses of professional ballet. The dancers in her 12 tales are all grace and confidence in the spotlight, but they balance precariously when thrust back into the real world. In the title story, Robbie Perez is torn between two dancers: his estranged wife, Lexa, and his new teenage partner on and off the stage, Sandra (who reappears in later stories). Like many ballet stars, Robbie feeds his dysfunction with drugs, hoping to recapture the fantasy of performance, where "all the girls were princesses." Dance dropout Katherine is the disillusioned protagonist of "Wili" and "The Brahmins." In the latter, she shows her documentary of young dancers, to a friend, who comments, "I think that is the weirdest collection of little freaks I have ever seen." Katherine doesn't agree; to her, these girls are "like tiny little disciples." "The Immortals: Margot + Rudolf 4 Ever" is a dramatic account of the long relationship between '60s and '70s superstars Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Other real-life stars jet in and out of the stories, allowing the collection to resonate with realism for readers who recognize the first-name references. While a knowledge of ballet is necessary for full appreciation, Sharp adroitly develops parallels between classic ballets such as Swan Lake and the personal dramas that play out behind the scenes. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June 26)Forecast: Balletomanes will be attracted by this book's evocative cover.
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*Starred Review* In dance, the most erotic art, the art most tied to time, the body is the medium. The dances themselves may achieve immortality like the myths and fairy tales that inspire choreographers, but dancers bloom only briefly, hothouse flowers forced into extravagant shapes doomed to quickly wither and fade. In this breathtaking suite of short stories, Sharp, herself a dancer and ardent observer of the ballet world, adroitly captures the elegance, magic, sexuality, obsession, ambition, sacrifice, vulnerability, and pain that define dancers' lives, writing with a calligraphic precision and svelteness that captures dance's unique allure. Most ballets are about thwarted longing and love, and so are Sharp's masterfully choreographed dramas, in which characters based on true-life artists such as George Balanchine, Rudolph Nureyev, and Suzanne Farrell share the stage with equally compelling fictional creations. Sharp's insights into the driving passion of these celebrities enhance the impact of her emotionally complex stories, but it is the deeper implications of dance that she so brilliantly illuminates. As her characters embark on impossible quests for perfection, put art before love, and value illusion over reality, Sharp reveals how the sexual heat that makes a select few dancers and dance partnerships great--unforgettable and iconic--can turn destructive offstage, where Sharp's characters flounder miserably, lost without the music, the steps, the costumes, and the lights. Dance can be a religion, the barre and stage sacred places, practice a kind of prayer, but it can also be an addiction, a "race against debilitation." And yet what is life without beauty and Eros? Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved