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review 2019-12-07 18:16
A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson
A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson

Harriet is the daughter of the worst professor at Cambridge, a man who doesn't mind teaching her Latin, but won't even consider the possibility of her attending university. Her aunt, Louisa, keeps house for them and is the cheapest person ever, so were Harriet to hack them to pieces with an ax, no one would be surprised. fortunately, Harriet is offered the opportunity to join the corps of a ballet troupe headed up the Amazon for an extended stay among the insanely wealthy rubber barons of 1912.
It's a delightful book. Just as in [book:A Countess Below Stairs|714569], the heroine isn't brilliant at everything, but she is charming and kind. The hero is a good man, which we know because of his efforts to protect a native tribe (or two). Sure he's a colonial making a fortune, but he treats his workers well, and cares about their long-term interests (if not their land rights).
In addition, we are treated to the amusing characters of the ballet company, a buffoon of a suitor for Harriet, an entrancing young boy, a scheming Scarlett O'Hara type, and quite a lot of natural history. Fleas get their due, as does a coati.
The magic of the book is that Ibbotson tells an Edwardian love story in a way that mostly feels authentic and also progressive. Perhaps it's because when the author brings in a <i>deus ex machina</i> she proclaims it as such. Maybe it's because our leads are enjoying everything unabashedly. I don't know, what the magic is, but I bet you anything you like that Ibbotson had FUN writing this book.

Library copy.

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review 2019-11-18 21:58
B Plus: Dancing For Mikhail Baryshnikov at American Ballet Theatre (Langlois)
B Plus: Dancing for Mikhail Baryshnikov at American Ballet Theatre: A Memoir - Michael Langlois

I was a massive Baryshnikov fan back in the 70s and 80s, and therefore this memoir by corps de ballet dancer Michael Langlois was instantly of interest. As it turns out, he's also a reasonably interesting man himself. He's particularly frank about two subjects: the perils of eating disorders, and the way he had to negotiate being a straight ballet dancer (like his hero/employer Baryshnikov, incidentally), given both the outside world's stereotyping and the actuality of maintaining friendships and boundaries within the ballet world itself. He appears to have managed a very close friendship and, for a time, roommate relationship, with gay dancer Peter Fonseca, for instance (alas, Fonseca was part of the dreadful losses to AIDS in the ballet world in the 80s and 90s). And although I was, of course, in it for the celebrity cameos, his anecdotes about the regular company members, musicians and coaching staff are quite engaging: he doesn't hesitate to re-create conversations and describe physical surroundings in a fair bit of detail. Finally, he is just about forthcoming enough (i.e. not too much) about the progress and eventual deterioration of the relationship with his girlfriend Julie, another dancer in the company.


Living up to the promise of the subtitle, Baryshnikov makes his appearance throughout a large part of the book, although it is clear there was never any more of a relationship between the two men than employer/employee, or coach/dancer. Langlois is actually quite funny about Baryshnikov's inability to articulate exactly what he wanted from a less talented dancer; like many with brilliant gifts, he seems, by this author's account, to have been a bit stymied by the fact that they didn't just *know* how to do it, as he did himself. Baryshnikov also called Langlois "Mikey" for many years, and Langlois generously (and probably correctly) surmises that he didn't realize the diminutive was derogatory, unlike his own "Misha", by which everyone seems to have known him.


Langlois is also likeably frank about the impact of realizing that his talent, though good, was not first-class (hence the book title), and how he eventually resolved that by moving first to smaller companies where he could do better roles, and then eventually out of the ballet world altogether. He now has an online presence as a massage therapist.

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url 2019-09-11 14:08
Learn Salsa Dance in Dubai - Ric Banks

If you want to learn Salsa Dance in Dubai, then you’ve come to the right place. At Ric Banks salsa classes in Dubai, our teachers facilitate your wonderful moves and help you to gain perfection. Join us today!

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url 2019-09-06 11:22
Kizomba Private Classes in Dubai - Ric Banks

Join Ric Banks Dance Academy for Kizomba Private Classes in Dubai. We teach both Group and Private Dance Lessons at an affordable price. For more info, call us at +971 52 292 2356 or email us at info@ricbanks.com

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review 2019-08-24 03:16
If I Knew Nothing About Congress This Would Have Been Mildly Interesting
The Dance of Legislation: An Insider's Account of the Workings of the United States Senate - Eric Redman

Bah. I am still annoyed we had to read this terrible book for our course. We are not new to the government or understanding the branches of government. I think if you are a new federal employee you should check out this book. I was probably also not pleased because we had to hear an all day lecture about how Congress works (the House, the Senate), the Judiciary, and then the Executive Branch. My face was just a literal grimace when we finished. You know how hard it was for me to not jump up on the table and scream this isn't the way things work anymore! 


"The Dance of Legislation" follows Eric Redman as a new staffer on the Hill trying to pass the National Health Services Bill in the 1970s while working for Senator Warren Magnuson. Redman seems so quaint now about how things work on the Hill when you realize that Mitch McConnell is the devil's own and is doing his best to break the government. Sorry, I had a lot of bile to spill since it became apparently some of my class was conservative leaning (not an issue) but it is when you have to hear people complaining about why can't people on both sides get along. Shut the hell up, kids are in cages, the Amazon is on fire, the President of the United States is a freaking racist. I got no patience anymore. 



Back to the book, this was just very long. I got really bored. There's a foreword to the 2001 edition and then another one to the original edition, and then a freaking preface. i fell asleep reading this book several times until I made myself sit up and drink coffee. I hate books that make my brain angry because I really really wanted to DNF this book a bunch. I couldn't of course since this was part of our case study work. Stupid learning. 


Redman is not a natural story teller. He jumps around. A lot. You want to yell get to the freaking point several times on. Also reading about how he had to work to get support for this bill started to bore me. I rather have watched Schoolhouse Rock sing to me about how a bill becomes a law on a loop for 24 hours. I say this as someone who loves history, but only when the person writing is can tell that history in such a way that compels me to want to read more. The history major in me went gah a few times. I even went to Wikipeida at one point to read a condense version of events since I just wanted to get to the end already. 


There's an epilogue (which I skipped) and even a postscript that I also skipped. 

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