Picks and Pans Review: Portrait of Mr. B.
with an essay by Lincoln Kirstein
This collection of photographs of George Balanchine, the late chief of the New York City Ballet, has an introduction by dancer Peter Martins, who took over his job. Martins writes, "About ballet, he knew that he was the ultimate authority, that he knew best. His dancers were the blades of grass, and he the gardener, he once told me." The early photographs of Balanchine as a dancer are great fun: In 1923 he wore a short toga and had a ballerina slung over one shoulder; in 1929 he struggled bare-chested with Anton Dolin in a ballet called Jealousy. Most of the rest of the book shows Balanchine instructing his famous dancers. The two-part series on Balanchine shown on PBS' Dance in America covers this same ground more effectively. Fans of ballet, however, will appreciate this volume for the work of such superb photographers as Gjon Mili, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn and Walker Evans. (Viking, $30)
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