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Scene From The Wings, a new book by Valery Panov


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For those who loved his earlier autobiogaphy, To Dance, this will be an interesting follow on.  Here is what it says on Amazon:


Valery Panov's autobiography, Scene From The Wings, reveals the workings of the ballet world: behind the stardust and the fame Panov is a man living through the prism of his art. The creative process motivates and steers his life, but it is also a ruthless moral compass setting him on a collision course with all his women: he finds them baffling and they find him lacking. The story opens in 1974 following Panov's struggle to leave the Soviet Union. Successful and acclaimed, but blinded by sophistication and in love with beauty, he begins to tread a dangerous path.


Panov danced in London with Festival Ballet (now ENB) back in the 1970's and his then wife Galina Panova went on to dance with other partners in the company.  Bafflingly neither was treated too kindly by the majority of the UK critics which may have been the reason why their early association with London came to an end.


I already have my copy on order.

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I have his earlier biography which was heart breaking and I plan to get this one, too.


Both Galina and Valery came to San Diego to dance with the original San Diego Ballet in the late 1970's.  I was taking company class every morning and it was a wonderful experience to be in class with them.  To watch these two  dancers at work - in class and in rehearsal.  Galena at the time spoke very little English, Valery conversed more easily.  


A number of years later, Galena contacted me for a copy of a tape of their first American performance at Wolf Trap Farm Park, hosted by Prima Beverly Sills.  We had taped the broadcast of that live performance and Galina had no record of it.  I was happy to send her a copy - it was a terrific performance.  Especially terrific was the pas de deux from Nutcracker with that spectacular one hand over the head lift.  I was also happy to write a recommendation for Galena's application for permanent residency in the USA - as an artist of special merit.  


Thank you for bringing this new bio to my attention.  

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  • 11 months later...

I posted about this book about a year ago and read it shortly after.  I imagine that there aren't too many people who remember the Panov's these days, but his earlier book, To Dance, is a real ballet classic.  This new book is nowhere near as good as the first but still a fascinating read.  Rather frustratingly there are a lot of loose ends in the book, so I was grateful when I was sent this link to the Israeli  publication Haaretz.  In this lengthy interview there is far more detail on his third wife's suicide and also more on his older children, the eldest of whom isn't even mentioned in the book.  Although Panov doesn't come out of the book with an awful lot of credit, it is hard not to feel sympathy for a man of his age having to bring up a very young child on his own. 


The article is very good by the way, excellent journalism.  Do read



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