From the vantage point of "real life" (as dancers say), Collusion tells the story of a young girl's initiation into the disciplined, exalting world of classical ballet and into a secret love relationship with F., the ballet master whom she adored.
"Do you want to be a great dancer?" F. had asked her when she was twelve. She did. And so Collusion tells of how she gave up ordinary lifefamily, boyfriends, hamburgers, homework, and pop musicfor a life dedicated to the promise of artistry. At the center of that new life was always the figure of F.ironic, moody, demanding, quixotically generous or withholdingwho could control her with a sarcastic comment or the flash of his cane across her thigh, but also with the lyrical beauty of his classes and the vision of herself in a perfect arabesque. F. was the first man to partner her, and the first to teach her that love can come in strange forms: in the airborne lifts of Les Sylphides, in brilliant pirouettes, and in measured violence.
Collusion describes the secret life of ballet. It is a life in which "normal" values are reversed. Brutality is seen as a gift, fear as devotion, sadism (rightly, in this case) as love. Free of conventional moral judgments, Collusion tells of possession and surrender, of power and submission, of the bond between a young girl and an older man.
In spare, emotionally resonant prose, award-winning poet and novelist Evan Zimroth unfolds a mesmerizing story of artistic ambition, power, and love in an unforgettable memoir of adolescence. Collusion portrays a real relationship, one that society dares not speak of, and it does so with admirable honesty and sensitivity.
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While her peers "went out on dates, talked to one another on the phone at night, listened to Greatest Hits," the prize-winning author of this refreshingly honest memoir was "listening to Chopin, Czerny, Scriabin, and Tchaikovsky surging through the humid, resin-filled air of the ballet studio." At the age of 12, Evan Zimroth submitted to the punishing regime of a latter-day Svengali who pushed her into a life of self-denial and physical torture. This demanding and temperamental Russian, a legendary dance master, also took a psychological hold over her, and a disturbing erotic bond was forged between tutor and pupil. The bruising affair dominated Zimroth's teenage years, but she writes about it without rancor. It was only after "F" (as she calls the man throughout the book) died that she felt able to write the story; it is imbued with the wisdom of hindsight and told in wonderfully supple prose. Zimroth writes of the punishment meted out to her on a regular basis--"F" would lash her with a cane--and the rewards--slices of blood-stained cheese that he would feed into her mouth--that she would endure without ever losing her poise. Her psychological acuity is astounding, and anyone who reads this--balletomane or not--will be gripped by Zimroth's lucid exploration of obsession. --Lilian Pizzichini, Amazon.co.ukAbout the Author:
Evan Zimroth is a writer whose first novel, Gangster, won the National Jewish Book Award 1996. She has also published two collections of poetry. She lives in New York City with her two daughters.
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