“A behind-the-scenes glimpse into the fascinating and challenging world of the New York City Ballet under Balanchine. It is also a compelling portrait of a dancer’s career and a testament to the many places a love of dance can take you.”—Suzannah Friscia, former assistant editor, Dance Magazine and Pointe
“A gift to everyone who cares about the professional and educational dance world. Sills provides intimate and poignant reflections about her youthful career on Broadway followed by years as a corps de ballet and soloist dancer with the New York City Ballet during renowned choreographer George Balanchine’s most prolific years.”—Myron Howard Nadel, coeditor of The Dance Experience: Insights into History, Culture, and Creativity
In this memoir of a roller-coaster career on the New York stage, former actor and dancer Bettijane Sills offers a highly personal look at the art and practice of George Balanchine, one of ballet’s greatest choreographers, and the inner workings of his world-renowned company during its golden years.
After getting her start on the stage as a child actor on Broadway, Bettijane Sills joined the New York City Ballet in 1961 as a member of the corps de ballet, working her way up to the level of soloist. During her years as a company dancer who remained outside the spotlight in which the principals stood, Sills experienced a side of the company that principal dancers did not see. She tells stories of taking classes with Balanchine, dancing in the original casts of some of his most iconic productions, and working with a number of the company’s most famous dancers.
Winningly honest and intimate, Sills lets readers peek behind the curtains to see a world that most people have never experienced firsthand. She reveals mistakes she made, the unglamorous parts of tour life, jealousy among company members, and Balanchine’s complex relationships with women. She talks about Balanchine’s insistence on thinness in his dancers and how her own struggles with weight influenced her roles and contributed to the end of her dancing career.
Now a professor of dance who has educated hundreds of students on Balanchine’s style and legacy, Sills reflects on the highs and lows of a career indelibly influenced by the bright lights of theater and by the man who shaped American ballet.
Bettijane Sills is professor of dance at Purchase College, State University of New York. She danced with the New York City Ballet from 1961 to 1972, first as a corps member and later as a soloist. Elizabeth McPherson is associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance and coordinator of the BA and MFA in dance at Montclair State University. She is the editor of The Bennington School of the Dance: A History in Writings and Interviews.