Two years ago, we purchased this book for our son for his 16th birthday for several reasons. The major two were that his own ballet teacher -- Larry Long -- was one of the teachers written about in the book. Also, he had taken classes with the author one summer, loved her as a teacher, and continually referred to her previous book -- Classical Ballet Technique. After we purchased the book, he discovered that several teachers with whom he had either taken classes or about whom he had heard were also covered in the book. He enjoyed the book because of the biographies of each of the teachers and because of the descriptions of their techniques and classes. He assumes that if he ever teaches he will enjoy rereading the book to see the information from a different perspective. We, his parents, have enjoyed it because we have little knowledge of the world of ballet and it gave us more insight into it. Of course, our favorite chapter was the one about his teacher as we learned more of his background, many of the people we knew were mentioned, it gave us greater insight into his teaching style, and the pictures were great. However, the other chapters were very informative and helpful to parents of a serious ballet student. (Since we had no background in ballet, it helped us understand the field a little more.)
To read this volume leaves one with the impression that the School of American Ballet (SAB) does not exist, Nureyev did not cross the Atlantic from time to time just to have Stanley William at SAB help him with technical problems (as well as urge talented kids who asked, in other contexts, to go either to SAB or the Paris Opera Ballet School), or that Baryshnikov does not know where to go when he teaches in New York except to SAB. What Suki Schorer calls the 'step, step and pose' school seems to have a bit too much sway here, as though New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and the other power houses, including, often, American Ballet Theater as well, do not know where to go to get their dancers. The ultimate criticism is therefore one of a serious lack of balance to the work, an irony, given that the subject is collaterally ballet.