I received my autographed, first-edition copy of Merrill Ashley's Dancing for Balanchine in the mail. For a used, 28 year-old book, it's in great shape. Only paid $20 for it too, which is good because I bought it to read and not admire on a shelf. I think Amazon's customer classification software is horribly confused by me. At least Netflix has stopped recommending Lesbian themed movies. :-) But I digress.
I haven't had a chance to read much of the book yet, but it appears to be an odd mix of autobiography and technical reference of Balanchine style. Perhaps, for her, the two are inseparable, so the combination makes sense. After all, she is Balanchine's creation, and according to the book he often taught dancers how to perform certain steps by telling them, "Watch Merrill." However, this mix means I can't read it like I would a regular biography. Nor can I treat it like a pure reference like Gretchen Ward Warren's Classical Ballet Technique. I'll have to digest it in pieces. No doubt I'll have more to say about the book in this blog as I get deeper into it.
Another reason for taking the book in pieces is the same reason I essentially skipped Chapter 2 of GWW. There's only so much I can handle of a world-class ballerina at the peak of her abilities demonstrating in text and photos how wrong it is for the working foot to turn from its perfectly parallel position as it moves outward from fifth in a tendu. She may have a perfect 180 degrees of turnout, but I have half that. Yes, there is a lesson I can learn -- that I should maintain whatever turnout I do have as the working foot moves forward -- but sometimes it's hard to see that for the frustration my perfectionist streak feels. Ah, well... little steps.