Format Hardcover
Publication Date 08/01/13
ISBN 9781605984568
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 682

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The Making of Markova

Diaghilev's Baby Ballerina to Groundbreaking Icon

Tina Sutton

As improbable as it is inspiring, the story of one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, her fortitude and reinvention, and her journey from the Ballets Russes, Balanchine and Matisse to international stardom.

In pre-World War I England, a frail Jewish girl – so shy she barely spoke a word until age six and so sickly she needed to be homeschooled – is diagnosed with flat feet, knock knees and weak legs. In short order, Lilian Alicia Marks would become a dance prodigy, the cherished baby ballerina of Sergei Diaghilev, and the youngest ever soloist at his famed Ballets Russes. It was there that George Balanchine choreographed his first ballet for her, Henri Matisse designed her costumes, and Igor Stravinsky taught her music - all when the re-christened Alicia Markova was just 14. But the timid British dancer would be forced to overcome poverty, jealousy, anti-Semitism, and prejudices against her unconventional looks to become the greatest classical ballerina of her generation - and one of the most celebrated, self-reliant, and adventurous. A true ambassador of ballet, Markova co-founded touring companies, traveled to the far corners of the world, and was the first ballerina to appear on television. Given unprecedented access to Dame Markova’s intimate journals and correspondence, Tina Sutton paints a full picture of the dancer’s astonishing life and times in 1920s Paris and Monte Carlo, 1930s London, and wartime in New York and Hollywood. Ballet lovers and readers everywhere will be fascinated by the story of one of the 20th century’s great artists. 60 photographs

Tina Sutton is currently a fashion, features and arts writer for The Boston Globe and has been a writer,researcher, and journalist for over thirty years. She also researches and writes material for museum and art catalogs and the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“... after a childhood plagued by flat feet, knock knees and wobbly legs, a doctor told her mother to try ballet lessons and low and behold she was discovered to be the most amazing dance protegee... she started her professional career at age ten and never stopped.... Considered the greatest ambassador of ballet!” WCVB Boston
“Chock-full of colorful, telling details, fascinating insights, and charming anecdotes that it makes for a thoroughly engaging read. Sutton’s book is a captivating portrait of a remarkable life to savor slowly.” The Boston Globe
“The pas de deux would seem the most unlikely topic to yield a page-turner, but Sutton has done it with her fascinating portrait of Alicia Markova. Sutton’s poignant, playful Markova shatters the stereotype of the pampered aesthete and deftly places her at the center of an era of breathtaking artistic ferment.” Greg Dawson, author of Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival
The Making of Markova is both a surprisingly intimate portrait of one of Britain’s and ballet’s truly great souls and a sweeping depiction of the kinetic, star-studded world of international ballet in the first half of the twentieth century. Tina Sutton’s lucid, deft and limber style admirably suits her subject.” Paul Thomas Murphy, author of Shooting Victoria, a New York Times Notable Book
“Sutton’s sense of wonderment lights up every page of this utterly transporting story of discipline, commitment, hardship, and steely self- reliance. Sutton brings Markova and her world to scintillating life in this ravishing biography of perpetual motion, limelight and darkness, courage and creativity.” Booklist, STARRED REVIEW