Elizabeth Kendall has unearthed the world of George Balanchine’s childhood. She has sought out every living member of the family and immersed herself in their lore and examined the scant sources from every possible angle. Where the facts fail, as they often do, she raises questions and fills in the picture with history. At its best, her book is not only a portrait of Balanchine’s youth, it is a portrait of Russia in collapse—of the world that was dying as Balanchine was coming of age.
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