In search of an early Balanchine ‘muse.’
Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By PETER TONGUETTE
Kendall is no less speculative in wondering what brought about the demise of Ivanova, who had evolved into a fetching ballerina with plans to leave the country to tour with Balanchine and several other members of their Young Ballet troupe when she went on a deadly motorboat ride. Was it an accident or murder? If murder, was it orchestrated by a rival ballerina or the Soviet secret police?
In the end, though, Kendall is at her best writing about ballet, not Bolsheviks, which makes me regret the limited scope of the book. There is no doubt that Balanchine and the Lost Muse is the last word on this period of Balanchine’s life, but there is something inapposite about its Russophile tone. While Balanchine was indebted to his homeland, it was the United States that gave him his most memorable artistic stimulation. This is a man, after all, whose Stars and Stripes incorporates a mammoth American flag into its scenery; whose Western Symphony delights in the sauntering sexiness of its dancing cowgirls; and whose final muse was not an ill-fated Russian but a teenager from Southern California called Darci Kistler.
Peter Tonguette is at work on a book about Peter Bogdanovich.