Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo

Victoria Tennant

Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo
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Victoria Tennant

256 pages | 335 color plates | 9-1/16 x 10-7/8 | © 2014
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226167169 Will Publish October 2014
E-book $44.00 ISBN: 9780226186306 Will Publish October 2014
In the 1930s and ’40s, the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo toured the United States and the world, introducing many to ballet as an art form, while spreading the enduring image of the ballerina as an embodiment of feminine grace and sophistication. This sumptuous, illustrated history tells the story of the rise of modern ballet and its popularity through the life story of one of ballet’s most glamorous stars, Irina Baronova (1919–2008), prima ballerina for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and later for Ballet Theatre in New York.

Drawing on letters, correspondence, oral histories, and interviews, Baronova’s daughter, the actress Victoria Tennant, warmly recounts Baronova’s dramatic life, from her earliest aspirations to her grueling time on tour to her later years in Australia as a pioneer of the art. She begins with the Baronov family’s flight from Russia during the Revolution, which led them to Romania and later Paris, where at the age of thirteen, Baronova became a star, chosen by the legendary George Balanchine to join the Ballets Russes, where she danced the lead in Swan Lake.  Tennant provides an intimate account of Baronova’s life as a dancer and rare behind-the-scenes stories of life on the road with the stars of the company. Spectacular photographs, a mix of archival images and family snapshots, offer many rare views of rehearsals, costumes, set designs, and the dancers themselves both at their most dazzling and in their most everyday.

The story of Irina Baronova is also the story of the rise of ballet in America thanks to the Ballets Russes, who brought the magisterial beauty and star power of dance to big cities and small towns alike.  Irina Baronova and the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo offers a unique perspective on this history, sure to be treasured by dance patrons and aspiring stars.
Mikhail Baryshnikov
“My friend Irina Baronova was a legendary Baby Ballerina of the Ballets Russes and an ambassador of classical ballet in America, but this book shows us the kind, funny, and hardworking woman behind the legend. She was a total pro and an elegant human being. If it’s possible, I'm more in awe than ever.”
Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet
“As a dancer myself, I connected deeply to Baronova’s words about what it’s like to feel in your soul the extremes of sacrifice, familial rivalry, and tremendous love that come from committing oneself to the art form. These pages made me realize how lucky we are now, we American dancers, because of the pioneering energy and sheer strength of Baronova and the other great dancers of the Ballets Russes who performed tirelessly night after night, stirring and thrilling hearts in every tiny pocket of America. It is something that should never be forgotten and should be instilled in all young dancers. We could never enjoy the careers we have today without these artists paving the way for us. I really couldn’t put this book down. I was in tears.”
Edmund De Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes
“This is a beautiful record of the twentieth century lived through dance.  It is illuminating and passionate and vivid: imagine Nabokov’s Speak, Memory photographed and choreographed.  I loved it.”
Anjelica Huston
“The passionate life story of the beautiful and dedicated Russian prima ballerina, Irina Baronova, is tenderly recounted by her daughter with wonderful photographs and vivid detail.”
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