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White Swan, Black Swan

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  22 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
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 26th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 486)
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Rachel Swords
"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
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
Jun 18, 2012 April Lyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to April Lyn by: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Shelves: 2012, recommended
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
Heather
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.
Elizabeth
Nov 17, 2006 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Erin
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 07, 2007 Renée rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Erica
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.
Gayla Bassham
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.
Manney
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
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!
Hillary
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.
Meg
Oct 14, 2007 Meg rated it 2 of 5 stars
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.
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!
JanOMalleycat
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.
Marnie
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.
Portia
this book really gave me nightmares for quite a while it just didn't go for me all that well
Rachel
Beautiful! Even if you know nothing about ballet and think you never want to learn.
heather jackson
Great Group of short stories- Mostly Balanchine-centric!
Lexi
I was a little strange for me
LeAnn
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.
Alba
Alba marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Amanda O'malley
Amanda O'malley marked it as to-read
Dec 08, 2014
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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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