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Dance Anecdotes: Stories from the Worlds of Ballet, Broadway, the Ballroom, and Modern Dance.

Dance Anecdotes: Stories from the Worlds of Ballet, Broadway, the Ballroom, and Modern Dance Edited by Mindy Aloft. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 288 pp. Hardcover, $26.

Dance usually speaks for itself, but a few well-chosen words are always welcome. This quirky collection has comments from everyone you ever wished you'd met. Here's Jean Cocteau on Nijinsky, "gasping, sweating, pressing one hand to his heart" after a performance of Le Spectre de la Rose; Martha Graham on letting her hair go white ("The hell I will"); and Hollywood tap phenomenon Eleanor Powell on a surprise visit to the set from Toscanini (he wanted to see "the dance with the noise"). It's a heartfelt homage to dance's best, not to say most outspoken.

Aloff rarely repeats by-now familiar stories. Included are sections on legends like Pavlova and Fonteyn, as well as coaching, partnering, makeup, salary, and other topics that professionals and aficionados will find absorbing. She even works in a cold remedy popular with the endlessly touring Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Some sections lack a strong organizing principle--"Dancing and Related Theatrical Professions" has an inexplicable excerpt on dressage--and sometimes a little more context would be welcome. Cyd Charisse is quoted on Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, with no mention of their movies together. Quibbles aside, like all great conversations, browsing these pages will make an afternoon disappear.
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Author:Rubin, Hanna
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:229
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