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White Swan, Black Swan

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3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  250 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
“Adrienne Sharp writes with breathtaking perception about the needs and desires of the body, its resilience and its vulnerabilities. Art, passion, history intersect with burning immediacy in this beautifully crafted book.”
–CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI
Author of The Mistress of Spices

The world’s most famous choreographer becomes infatuated with a talented young dancer who pro
...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 26th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rachel Swords
Jul 28, 2011 Rachel Swords rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dance-ballet
"White Swan, Black Swan" is a well-written collection of short stories about the vast world of ballet.As someone who took ballet lessons for sixteen years, I especially enjoyed how Ms. Sharp had her characters speak naturally in regard to the steps and ballets, instead of slowing the stories down by explaining what was what and the various ballet plots. Also, this collection is enjoyable in that you don't have to read the stories in order, though they each have a loose connection to each other. ...more
Jennifer Bagazin
Jun 10, 2013 Jennifer Bagazin rated it did not like it
My attention was with this book for one fat month - and I didn't even finish it. The book was a bunch of stories about ballet and all things beautiful whatsoever. I didn't relate to any of it. I was never really interested in ballet. Why I bought this book was beyond me. At first I thought I could handle the boringness of it all or that maybe I would see the light after a few more pages or that the story of the Black Swan (as in the movie) would materialize in the plot in front of me and I'd get ...more
April Lyn
May 17, 2012 April Lyn rated it really liked it
Recommended to April Lyn by: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Shelves: recommended, 2012
This is not a quick read. I picked it up thinking it would be a quick, mindless romp and it was anything but. In fact, it's very hard to read in several sittings and would probably be a lot more gratifying if read all at once. There were definitely stories that I preferred to others; I've forgotten my favorites but did not like "A Short Season" at all. The final story is excellent - it ties many of the others together. There is a lot of spectacular writing and clever references all throughout th ...more
Kimberly
May 17, 2015 Kimberly rated it liked it
This was one of those books that I expected to be able to sit and read. I found that I had to put it down and give it some time between stories. I enjoyed some stories more than others, which I think is pretty typical of short story collections. The author is very clear that it includes people who actually lived or are living, but it is a fictional work. I felt that using people who are known in the dance world hurt the stories. There were times I felt I was expected to know who a person was to ...more
Heather
Aug 20, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
In this selection of short stories, Sharp, a former member of the Harkness Ballet of New York, illuminates the dance world and the lives of dancers. She adroitly weaves together fictional characters and characters based on true-life artists (including Suzanne Farrell, Rudolf Nurevey, and Frederick Ashton) and makes palpable the emotional and physical demands of ballet. Sharp also happens to be a fantastic writer. This book is one of the best ballet themed works I've read.
Laura
Aug 06, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
A collection of short stories about ballet. Though I have seen and enjoy ballet, I admit I don’t know all that much about it. Even during my two years in art school I didn’t interact with the ballet dancers that much. Consequently, some of the names and characterizations are a little lost on me, but I did enjoy this nonetheless.
Elizabeth
Nov 17, 2006 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bun Heads and Dance Afficionados
Shelves: balletbooks, fiction
I'm so glad Jenna added this to her book list! I've met the author Sharp for an article I wrote about her second book, which is called First Love. Sharp paints a vivid and passionate picture of the world of ballet, taking actual dancers creating imaginary lives for Fonteyn, Nureyev and others. If you are a dance junky, you will love this book of short stories.
Erica
Mar 04, 2013 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ballet, short-stories
I wish I could give this book 2 1/2 stars.

I love ballet and I love the real people, like Balanchine, featured in Adrienne Sharp's collection of short stories. That being said, I couldn't get into these stories. I truly enjoyed only two or three of them. Still, they are beautiful, if not a little odd.
Holly Colbert
Oct 31, 2016 Holly Colbert rated it really liked it
This book fulfilled my guilty pleasure of all things ballet. However, with the mention of famous ballet dancers throughout, I could see where maybe people who did not grow up in the ballet world may not be as into it as I was. With the mention of Baryshnikov and Suzanne Farrell and Sylvie Guillem + others...it made for a great read.
Erin
Jun 22, 2012 Erin rated it liked it
This is a collection of short stories which focus on the professional world of dance. Some of the stories are loosely based on real dancers lives, if you're familiar with the dance world you should be able to pick them out. I enjoyed some stories more than others as with most short story collections, overall it was an enjoyable and entertaining read.
Renée
Jul 03, 2007 Renée rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who read literary fiction and/or books about dancers.
This debut of stories does show the world of ballet authentically in its vignettes. Uneven, as many first books are, the better stories present the harsh realities of ballet against the beauty created on stage. Perhaps too much white swan and not enough black, its a refreshing portrait of the world of dance and dancers.
Manney
Aug 20, 2012 Manney rated it it was ok
It would have made an excellent book if the writing was more lucid and linking instead of simply going through the motions. I love books about ballet and the drama that happens behind the scenes (Black Swan anyone?) but I think there needs to be more than just an attempt.
Christine
Mar 25, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
No connection to the recent film. This is a collection of short stories about ballet dancers. If you then read her novel "First Love" you'll recognize two of the characters, as well as a fictionalized George Ballanchine. For balletomanes like me - great!
Gayla Bassham
Jan 17, 2011 Gayla Bassham rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads
Oh, the curse of high expectations! I loved the movie Black Swan, and I had heard good things about Sharp's novel, so I anticipated that I would adore this book. No, alas, it didn't work for me. The characters felt flat, and the milieu wasn't as well realized as I thought it would be. Oh, well.
Hillary
Jan 07, 2009 Hillary rated it liked it
I love a good ballet story, although Sharp's short stories have a definite sadness to them. She depicts the not-so-glamorous lifestyle of many dancers, but in a way that conveys both the sacrifices and the passion required in ballet.
Jessica Lindsley Casavant
Sep 29, 2014 Jessica Lindsley Casavant rated it it was amazing
I was surprised and delighted at the emotional density and the physicality of these stories. Insightful descriptions behind the scenes of the ballet world show the day to day battles of rigorous practice balanced with beautiful descriptions of bodies in motion in famous roles. I love this book.
Meg
Aug 20, 2007 Meg rated it it was ok
Shelves: ballet
This book averages out as a two. Some of the stories I liked, or even really liked, but others were truly bad. The original stories were the best; I could do without the "fictionalized" accounts of famous dancers.
Hannah
Jan 25, 2013 Hannah rated it liked it
3.5
LeAnn
Sep 07, 2008 LeAnn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories about the lives of professional dancers. I liked some more than others, but all in all, it fed my dance obsession.
Portia
May 27, 2013 Portia rated it did not like it
this book really gave me nightmares for quite a while it just didn't go for me all that well
OMalleycat
Jul 12, 2009 OMalleycat rated it liked it
Very uneven collection of short stories about the world of dance. The stories that are entirely fictional are very good. Those that are romans a clef are not.
heather jackson
May 11, 2007 heather jackson rated it it was amazing
Great Group of short stories- Mostly Balanchine-centric!
Lexi
Apr 15, 2012 Lexi rated it it was ok
I was a little strange for me
Marnie
Mar 07, 2009 Marnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I'll be putting Ivy in Ballet after reading this for fear she'd want to pursue it further than her mother did.
Mills College Library
Fiction S5316w 2002
Caitlin Griffin
Remarkable! I liked all stories but one, and loved several. At the end of the book, I went back and skimmed so I could understand the connections between characters. Great collection!
Jason Murphy
Jun 02, 2014 Jason Murphy rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The last half of the book is quite good.
Larissa
Larissa rated it liked it
Feb 20, 2010
Sarah
Sarah rated it liked it
Dec 23, 2014
Jess
Jess rated it liked it
Jun 24, 2011
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Adrienne Sharp entered the world of ballet at age seven and trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York. She received her M.A. with honors from the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia. She has been a fiction fellow at MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Squaw Valley Writer’s Con ...more
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