Toni Bentley with Peter Boal and Silas Farley

For a decade, from the time she was seventeen, Toni Bentley was a dancer with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, dancing in central, prominent roles throughout that time. In her new book, Serenade: A Balanchine Story (Pantheon), she writes of that singular masterwork of his, what it was to dance and work with Balanchine in its staging, which included seventeen female dancers doing demanding, turn-on-a-dime precision work.

“A beautiful read about one of the greatest ballets ever created. A unique document, propulsive and rich in substance. Balanchine’s image emerges powerfully, in wonderful detail. Personal, authentic, and revealing about what it took to be one of his dancers.” —Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Toni Bentley’s Serenade is in a category all its own—at once an ode to the rigor and passion necessary to create great art and a pointillist description of its making. It is also the story of the embracing yet exacting Balanchine, lending his genius to a young woman’s life. It will consume anyone interested in the generative force that comes from the devoted pursuit of a vocation; you needn’t know the difference between a tendu and an arabesque, a prima ballerina and a member of the corps, to be captured by its poetic prose and ingenious structure. This is a transporting reading experience, written with fervor and discernment, and a moving testament to the possibilities that lie within each of us.” —Daphne Merkin.

In addition to her dance career, Toni Bentley has over the years become a writer of note, her books including Winter Season, Holding On to the Air (with Suzanne Farrell), and The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. 

Joining in virtual conversation this evening will be Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, and in earlier years, himself a dancer with New York City Ballet. Also virtually on hand will be Silas Farley, Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, and from 2012-2020 a dancer with New York City Ballet. This should be enlivening, to say the least.

Co-presented with promotional support from the Pacific Northwest Ballet.




Serenade: A Balanchine Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593316399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - April 12th, 2022

Virtually Hosted by Elliott Bay Book Company
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - 6:00pm
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