I Was a Dancer

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I Was a Dancer

Format:  Hardcover,

439 pages

Publisher: Random House Inc

Publish Date: Mar 2011

ISBN-13: 9781400042340

ISBN-10: 1400042348

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
"Who am I? I'm a man; an American, a father, a teacher, but most of all, I am a person who knows how the arts can change lives, because they transformed mine. I was a dancer."
In this rich, expansive, spirited memoir, Jacques d'Amboise, one of America's most celebrated classical dancers, and former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for more than three decades, tells the extraordinary story of his life in dance, and of America's most renowned and admired dance companies.
He writes of his classical studies beginning at the age of eight at The School of American Ballet. At twelve he was asked to perform with Ballet Society; three years later he joined the New York City Ballet and made his European debut at London's Covent Garden.
As George Balanchine's protege, d'Amboise had more works choreographed on him by "the supreme Ballet Master" than any other dancer, among them Tchaikovsky "Pas de Deux;""Episodes; A Midsummer's Night's Dream; Jewels;""Raymonda Variations."
He writes of his boyhood--born Joseph Ahearn--in Dedham, Massachusetts; his mother ("the Boss") moving the family to New York City's Washington Heights; dragging her son and daughter to ballet class (paying the teacher $7.50 from hats she made and sold on street corners, and with chickens she cooked stuffed with chestnuts); his mother changing the family name from Ahearn to her maiden name, d'Amboise ("It's aristocratic. It has the 'd' apostrophe. It sounds better for the ballet, and it's a better name").
We see him. a neighborhood tough, in Catholic schools being taught by the nuns; on the streets, fighting with neighborhood gangs, and taking ten classes a week at the School of American Ballet . . . being taught professional class by Balanchine (he was "small, unassuming, he radiated energy and total command") and by other teachers of great legend: Anatole Oboukhoff, premier danseur of the Maryinsky Theatre ("Such a big star," said Balanchine, "people followed him, like a prince with servants"); and Pierre Vladimiroff, Pavlova's partner ("So light on feather feet"). Vladimiroff drilled into his students, "You must practice, practice, practice. Onstage, forget everything Just listen to the music and dance."
D'Amboise writes about Balanchine's succession of ballerina muses who inspired him to near-obsessive passion and led him to create extraordinary ballets, dancers with whom d'Amboise partnered--Maria Tallchief; Tanaquil LeClercq, a stick-skinny teenager who blossomed into an exquisite, witty, sophisticated "angel" with her "long limbs and dramatic, mysterious elegance . . ."; the iridescent Allegra Kent; Melissa Hayden; Suzanne Farrell, who Balanchine called his "alabaster princess," her every fiber, every movement imbued with passion and energy; Kay Mazzo; Kyra Nichols ("She's perfect," Balanchine said. "Uncomplicated--like fresh water"); and Karin von Aroldingen, to whom Balanchine left most of his ballets.
D'Amboise writes about dancing with and courting one of the company's members, who became his wife for fifty-three years, and the four children they had . . . On going to Hollywood to make "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and being offered a long-term contract at MGM ("If you're not careful," Balanchine warned, "you will have sold your soul for seven years") . . . On Jerome Robbins ("Jerry could be charming and complimentary, and then, five minutes later, attack, and crush your spirit--all to see how it would influence the dance movements").
D'Amboise writes of the moment when he realizes his dancing career is over and he begins a new life and new dream teaching children all over the world about the arts through the magic of dance.
A riveting, magical book, as transformative as dancing itself.

Specifications

Publisher: Random House Inc
Publish Date: Mar 2011
ISBN-13: 9781400042340
ISBN-10: 1400042348
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 439
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.96
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.75 x 9.5 x 1.5

Chapter outline

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prologuep. xv
The Bossp. 3
Washington Heightsp. 25
SABp. 39
Maria Tallchief, Balanchine, and Marc Chagallp. 90
Balanchine and Crankop. 98
Lincoln and Lewp. 111
Boss Leaves Popp. 127
Carolyn Georgep. 130
A Honeymoon in Haitip. 171
Apollop. 181
Miracle" Georgep. 210
Quentin Keynesp. 223
Balanchine's Musesp. 267
Lincolnp. 299
The Years Leading to Balanchine's Deathp. 307
A Close Call with Deathp. 327
The Years Leading to Balanchine's Death, Continuedp. 336
Balanchine's Burialp. 352
National Dance Institutep. 360
Death of Lincolnp. 397
Death of Millyp. 401
NDI Goes Onp. 404
Dnouementp. 406
Appendix: The Novenap. 419
Indexp. 423

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2010-12-01)

In his engrossing recollections, dAm bois e writes, "My memoirs are not filled with angst... Everything was given to me, and all of it was the best of the best". This sunny summary understates his commitment to hard work and his unabashed love of ballet. By the age of 17 he was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, where he danced for 35 years. Later, in 1976, he founded the National Dance Institute, a successful arts education program that is still making a difference.

The touchstones of dAmboise's remembrances are the ballets he danced and the artists with whom he worked. The choreographer George Balanchine was a central influence in his life, but d'Amboise shares entertaining stories and insights from such luminaries as Lincoln Kirstein, Antony Tudor, Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, and Diana Adams.

Verdict: Like Bob Dylan's Chronicles, d'Amboises memoir is episodic and nonlinear, an approach not all readers will appreciate. But his writing style is conversational and casual, and his voice is enthusiastic, optimistic, and full of wonder-balletomane's will not be able to put this book down.

[See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.] - Joan Stahl, Head Librarian, George Washington's Mount Vernon, VA

(c). Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

“Who am I? I’m a man; an American, a father, a teacher, but most of all, I am a person who knows how the arts can change lives, because they transformed mine. I was a dancer.”

In this rich, expansive, spirited memoir, Jacques d’Amboise, one of America’s most celebrated classical dancers, and former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for more than three decades, tells the extraordinary story of his life in dance, and of America’s most renowned and admired dance companies.

He writes of his classical studies beginning at the age of eight at The School of American Ballet. At twelve he was asked to perform with Ballet Society; three years later he joined the New York City Ballet and made his European debut at London’s Covent Garden.

As George Balanchine’s protégé, d’Amboise had more works choreographed on him by “the supreme Ballet Master” than any other dancer, among them Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux; Episodes; A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream; Jewels; Raymonda Variations.

He writes of his boyhood—born Joseph Ahearn—in Dedham, Massachusetts; his mother (“the Boss”) moving the family to New York City’s Washington Heights; dragging her son and daughter to ballet class (paying the teacher $7. 50 from hats she made and sold on street corners, and with chickens she cooked stuffed with chestnuts); his mother changing the family name from Ahearn to her maiden name, d’Amboise (“It’s aristocratic. It has the ‘d’ apostrophe. It sounds better for the ballet, and it’s a better name”).

We see him. a neighborhood tough, in Catholic schools being taught by the nuns; on the streets, fighting with neighborhood gangs, and taking ten classes a week at the School of American Ballet... being taught professional class by Balanchine (he was “small, unassuming, he radiated energy and total command”) and by other teachers of great legend: Anatole Oboukhoff, premier danseur of the Maryinsky Theatre (“Such a big star,” said Balanchine, “people followed him, like a prince with servants”); and Pierre Vladimiroff, Pavlova’s partner (“So light on feather feet”). Vladimiroff drilled into his students, “You must practice, practice, practice. Onstage, forget everything! Just listen to the music and dance.”

D’Amboise writes about Balanchine’s succession of ballerina muses who inspired him to near-obsessive passion and led him to create extraordinary ballets, dancers with whom d’Amboise partnered—Maria Tallchief; Tanaquil LeClercq, a stick-skinny teenager who blossomed into an exquisite, witty, sophisticated “angel” with her “long limbs and dramatic, mysterious elegance... ”; the iridescent Allegra Kent; Melissa Hayden; Suzanne Farrell, who Balanchine called his “alabaster princess,” her every fiber, every movement imbued with passion and energy; Kay Mazzo; Kyra Nichols (“She’s perfect,” Balanchine said. “Uncomplicated—like fresh water”); and Karin von Aroldingen, to whom Balanchine left most of his ballets.

D’Amboise writes about dancing with and courting one of the company’s members, who became his wife for fifty-three years, and the four children they had... On going to Hollywood to make Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and being offered a long-term contract at MGM (“If you’re not careful,” Balanchine warned, “you will have sold your soul for seven years”)... On Jerome Robbins (“Jerry could be charming and complimentary, and then, five minutes later, attack, and crush your spirit—all to see how it would influence the dance movements”).

D’Amboise writes of the moment when he realizes his dancing career is over and he begins a new life and new dream teaching children all over the world about the arts through the magic of dance.

A riveting, magical book, as transformative as dancing itself.

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