"You have a child prodigy, Mrs Glasbeek." With these words Madame Xenia Borovansky proclaimed that Alida Belair was destined for ballet greatness. Three years later, at the age of eleven, Alida became a child star in her role as Clara in the Borovansky Ballet's production of the Nutcracker Suite. Out of Step traces the extraordinary story of Alida Belair's ascent to the su"You have a child prodigy, Mrs Glasbeek." With these words Madame Xenia Borovansky proclaimed that Alida Belair was destined for ballet greatness. Three years later, at the age of eleven, Alida became a child star in her role as Clara in the Borovansky Ballet's production of the Nutcracker Suite. Out of Step traces the extraordinary story of Alida Belair's ascent to the summit of the international ballet world, her striving to develop artistically and personally despite that world's tight constraints, and her struggle with anorexia. Alida Belair was born in South West France, where her family was being hidden from the Nazis. She came to Australia in 1949, and at a young age was discovered by the Borovanskys who recognized her prodigious and precocious talent. In her late teens, she was discovered anew, this time by the Bolshoi which invited her to study at its school in Moscow. When her studies were cut short by the Cuban Missile Crisis, her passion and her talent saw her travel west to dance leading roles in London, New York and Washington–and to work with Marie Rambert, Rudolf Nureyev, George Balanchine, and other greats. Then, in her late twenties, self-starvation, isolation, and exhaustion called her career to a halt. In Out of Step, Alida Belair tells of her battle to reconcile her demanding and exhilarating art with her emotional needs and intellectual development, and of her eventual emergence as an adult into the world outside the cloisters of the ballet which she had entered as a child. Praise for Out of Step:"One of the most absorbing autobiographical narratives of the year" - Peter Ross, ABC Television (Australia) "A warm and intelligent recounting of a dancer's life, by a warm, intelligent and highly articulate dancer. Every dancer who reads it will find a bit of herself threaded through its pages. It embraces not only the passions, but also the problems of the journey to the top and is therefore both an inspiration and cautionary tale" - Dame Margaret Scott."Unusually honest...An engrossing, splendidly written autobiography" - Pamela Ruskin, Dance Australia."Belair presents an engrossing image of the 1950s and 1960s, beginning with the pioneering Borovansky Ballet in Australia, where she grew up, the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Walter Gore's London Ballet, Ballet Rambert and finally the National Ballet of Washington and American Ballet Theatre." - Doris Hering, Dance Magazine, USA."Absorbing, moving and entertaining, not only for dance lovers" - Peter Kohn, Australian Jewish News....
|Title||:||Out of Step: A Dancer Reflects|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||304 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Out of Step: A Dancer Reflects Reviews
Belair was lucky, perhaps. Natural talent plus adults willing to capitalise on that talent...or exploit it. Perhaps not so lucky. But hers is at the very least a colourful story: born in hiding to Jewish parents in Vichy France, immigration to Australia at a young age, ballet lessons and rising stardom, again at a young age, professional success tempered by one difficulty after another.The writing is so-so, but Belair is appealingly snarky. She doesn't hold back—hers are not rose-coloured glasses! Some of the people she danced with, or learned from, meet with her approval in this book, but many do not. It works because she is equally willing to take her younger self to task, presenting herself (intentionally) as quite a diva when she was a child, and then rather neurotic and insecure as an adult. Though I liked to believe that I was tolerant of most of my friends' sexual activities, she says, I had steadfastly protected my own virginity (159). Not 'I was tolerant' but 'I liked to believe I was tolerant'...opening up room for doubts and raised eyebrows. She takes herself seriously enough to be writing this book, but she's self-aware enough to poke fun at herself: [In Light Fantastic] I danced the part of a dizzy coquettish character, in marked contrast to the grandiose classical elegance of the other ballets in my repertoire. This was not a bad thing for someone who was inclined to take herself rather too seriously (178–179).One of the things that interests me most about Belair's trajectory is her determination to get to Russia. She trained in the Russian style of ballet, but at the time the Cold War was on. Visas to study in Russia were difficult to come by, and applicants treated with suspicion. She did manage, for a time, but all good things must come to an end and so on...and occasionally, here, she says things that are reminders of how fragile dreams can be. I told myself over and over again that if I didn't resist the temptation to join as a soloist now, before I was ready, then I would always be a soloist, never a principal (163–164).Belair was fortunate in a way that many aspiring dancers are not: she had offers, often several at a time, to join companies. Good offers. Well-established, respected companies. And yet throughout the book she's up against the question of whether or not that's really what she wants. It's a level of success that many can only dream of...but not, perhaps, the success that she dreams of.The book ends quite abruptly with (view spoiler)[the end of Belair's career (hide spoiler)], though it sounds as though that might have been for the best, given her disillusionment. Judging by what little I could find on the web, she danced a while in Australia after the end of the period the book covers, but...not in the same realm. I imagine her life, and career, would have been very, very different had she been born forty years later.