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Sisters of Salome


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Explores how four influential dancers embraced the persona of the femme fatale and transformed the misogynist image of a dangerously sexual woman into a form of personal liberation

About the Author

Toni Bentley danced with George Balanchine's New York City Ballet for ten years. Her books include Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, Holding On to the Air, Costumes by Karinska, and The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir.


Former NYC ballerina and independent scholar Toni Bentley offers a study of four famous women who created versions of the legendary femme fatale Salome (popularized by Oscar Wilde) in Sisters of Salome, a cultural study and the story of an obsession. Bentley explores the experiences of women who have tapped into the power of the nude female body, particularly four who found fame by portraying Salome: Maud Allen, Mata Hari, Ida Rubenstein and Colette. Bentley gives a sketch of each woman's life and what compelled them to dance their own versions of Salome, showing how she was "not only a misogynist, masochistic male fantasy, but a heterosexual, sadistic female fantasy as well." (Yale Univ., $27.95 288p ISBN 0-300-09039-0; May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"Here is a book that will scare the pants off John Ashcroft. A highbrow survey of what generally passes as a lowbrow art... The detail is as delicious, and as revealing, as a Dance of the Seven Veils." New York Times "Bentley studies the figure of the fin-de-siecle femme fatale, in particular four women-Colette, Maud Allan, Mata Hari, and Ida Rubinstein-who chose the way of Salome. They danced exotically to wield their power, reinvent themselves, and, paradoxically, hide their sad pasts by becoming as nude as possible." Village Voice "This fascinating slice of popular culture will appeal to both social and dance historians." Booklist

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