I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass.

...and if you read my review of her next memoir, The Surrender, you will find how after she left the ballet, she found another way to experience her ass body.

I SWEAR, Winter Season is really well-written and lovely and controlled. I guess after all that control, maybe she needed to write one of the most bizarre books I have ever read - a work which stands out, after nearly forty years of reading the weirdest shit I could lay my hands on and also after writing plenty of freaky erotica myself, as the most let's just say memorable piece of sex writing I have ever read. And that includes stuff like Annihilated By A Gay Minotaur, The Human Cow Experience 2 - The Main Event (Fantasy Farms) and Pounded In The Butt By The Fact That It Took Less Time For This Book To Be Written And Published Than The Entire Length Of Tony Scarymoochy's Term As White House Communications Director.

This amazing book, I recently discovered, was made into a play which prompted this equally amazing bit from a stunned reviewer:

"On future anal sex: ‘I never let anyone else into my sacred backyard… what was once hallowed ground, now a tunnel of despair… filled with ghosts.’

HOT TIP FOR ASPIRING PLAYWRIGHTS: Never describe your asshole as a tunnel of despair filled with ghosts.

Finally, leaving us on an inspiring upbeat note, Toni tells us, ‘I had taken my ass back. He doesn’t live there any more. I live there now.’"

Yeah. Just as well I didn't persevere with the ballet lessons.
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)

From: [personal profile] watersword


As a former ballet dancer: WHAT THE HELL.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


Pounded In The Butt By The Fact That It Took Less Time For This Book To Be Written And Published Than The Entire Length Of Tony Scarymoochy's Term As White House Communications Director.

Bless Chuck Tingle.

HOT TIP FOR ASPIRING PLAYWRIGHTS: Never describe your asshole as a tunnel of despair filled with ghosts.

Good advice for anyone, really! (Unless you specifically wish to disturb/discourage someone, I suppose.)
Edited Date: 2017-08-21 08:42 pm (UTC)
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)

From: [personal profile] watersword


I mean, there's a lot of sex happening in ballet companies, they are largely made up of teenage and young-adult athletes who are very flexible, but that is a ...choice to make about your followup work to a memoir!
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)

From: [personal profile] sovay


HOT TIP FOR ASPIRING PLAYWRIGHTS: Never describe your asshole as a tunnel of despair filled with ghosts.

Indeed, as Chuck Tingle has taught us, they should at least be gay unicorn ghosts.
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional


You know, on the one hand I don't think it's INEVITABLE that you come out of an emotionally fucked up career in the brutality of dance as it's pursued in our culture and write a second book wherein you have Deep Spiritual Revelations via Anal Sex where you refer unironically to your anus being a tunnel of despair filled with ghosts.

But on the other hand, given some of the dancers I have known, it's also not a shocking or out of character place to end up.

(This is not a feeling that is unique to dancers. I suspect it's more BECAUSE dancers are part of the sphere of On Stage Performers Under Stress. Never, ever underestimate the Fantastically Special that can come out of that.)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)

From: [personal profile] sholio


I'm literally laughing out loud at the tunnel of despair filled with ghosts. That is AMAZING. It's like the other end of the emotional spectrum from the purple prose sex writing that describes his ship of pleasure entering her love canal, but the same basic style.
Edited Date: 2017-08-21 09:18 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] the_rck


I'm so glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read the bit under the cut text. I'm still laughing.
asakiyume: (holy carp)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume


If you're asshole is a tunnel of despair filled with ghosts, then you must ... [endless fart jokes]

And living in your own butt. Wowzers.
asakiyume: (nevermore)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume


Of course!! But it's not, like... the desirable endpoint of a story, you know?
asakiyume: (definitely definitely)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume

whereas Chuck Tingle


Has discovered that amazing niche market, erotica-that-also-doubles-as-social-satire-in-the-title-alone.

Also, probably erotica with highest ratio of title to content words.
sputnikhearts: (Default)

From: [personal profile] sputnikhearts


I've been dancing ballet for a little while now. Will keep you informed as the metamorphosis into a tunnel of ass ghosts proceeds.
skygiants: Honey from Ouran with his hands to his HORRIFIED CHEEKS (ZOMG!)

From: [personal profile] skygiants


Is there a link to the stunned theatrical review???
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

Re: It was not the anal sex primer we were looking for


Wow. Very wow. Thank you for the link to this marvellous piece of theatre criticism.
pauraque: bird flying (Default)

From: [personal profile] pauraque

Re: It was not the anal sex primer we were looking for


Having spent a lot of time in slash fandom, I had thought myself completely inured to the assignment of excessive spiritual and philosophical significance to buttsex. I never imagined I could be this wrong.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

From: [personal profile] luzula


Thank you for this post, it has brightened my day considerably!
akamarykate: (Default)

From: [personal profile] akamarykate


I read A Winter Season ages ago, possibly when it first came out. I've always been a bit fascinated by ballet.

But I had no idea that other thing existed. Holy wow.
nenya_kanadka: The Middleman makes exclamatory jazz-hands (@ !!!!)

From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka


That sounds like a) a legit sexual awakening but b) perhaps a sliiiiiight bit of oversharing? I hope she finds a good dom who can exorcise her tunnel of despair someday!

Or, you know, takes up writing smutfic with lots of sex that's not one-finger-two-finger-cock. :D
asakiyume: (nevermore)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume


Aaaaahhhhhaaaaa--unintentional, I assure you!
brigdh: (Default)

From: [personal profile] brigdh


"On future anal sex: ‘I never let anyone else into my sacred backyard… what was once hallowed ground, now a tunnel of despair… filled with ghosts.’

I AM DYING OF LAUGHTER.
.

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