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May 9, 2022 @ 1:00 pm

Serenade: A Virtual Afternoon with Toni Bentley, Lourdes Lopez and Steven Caras


May 9, 2022
1:00 pm



Books & Books, Miami Book Fair, and Miami City Ballet present

A Virtual Afternoon with

Toni Bentley 

with special guest

Lourdes Lopez

in conversation with

Steven Caras

Serenade: A Balanchine Story

(Pantheon, $30)

Monday, May 9, 1 PM ET | On Crowdcast


About the Book:

Toni Bentley, a dancer for George Balanchine, the greatest ballet maker of the 20th century, tells the story of Serenade, his iconic masterpiece, and what it was like to dance—and live—in his world at New York City Ballet during its legendary era. This breathtaking book is a “unique document about one of the greatest ballets ever created…. A beautiful read” (Mikhail Baryshnikov).

At age seventeen, Toni Bentley was chosen by Balanchine, then in his final years, to join the New York City Ballet. From both backstage and onstage, she carries us through the serendipitous history and physical intricacies and demands of Serenade: its dazzling opening, with seventeen women in a double-diamond pattern; its radical, even jazzy, use of the highly refined language that is ballet; its place in the choreographer’s own dramatic story of his immigration to the United States from Soviet Russia; its mystical—and literal—embodiment of the tradition of classical ballet in just thirty-three minutes.

Bentley takes us inside the rarefied, intense, and thrilling world Balanchine created through his lifelong devotion to celebrating and expanding female beauty and strength—a world that, inevitably, passed upon his death. An intimate elegy to grace and loss and to the imprint of a towering artist and his transcendent creation on Bentley’s own life, Serenade: A Balanchine Story is a rich narrative by a dynamic artist about the nature of art itself at its most ephemeral and glorious.


About the Author:

TONI BENTLEY danced with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet for ten years. She is the author of five books, all named “Notable” by the New York Times, which include Winter Season: A Dancer’s Journal, Holding On to the Air (the autobiography of Suzanne Farrell, co-authored with Farrell), Costumes by Karinska, Sisters of Salome, and The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. Bentley is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and her work has appeared in Best American Essays, as well as in many periodicals, among them the New York Times Book ReviewWall Street Journal, The New Republic, PlayboyThe Daily Beast, Vogue, and Vanity Fair.

About the Special Guest:

LOURDES LOPEZ has become one of the ballet world’s most prominent and accomplished contributors. She became Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet in 2012, bringing with her a nearly 40-year career in dance, television, teaching and arts management.

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and raised in Miami, Lopez began taking ballet lessons at the age of five, on the recommendation of a doctor. At the age of 11 she received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, splitting the year between Miami and New York City. At fourteen, she moved to New York permanently to devote herself to full-time studies at SAB, and shortly after her sixteenth birthday, joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet. Under the direction of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, her star rose quickly at New York City Ballet. She became the first (and only) Latina Principal Dancer with the company, from which she retired in 1997.

Lopez has also served as Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation, co-founded Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon, and was elected to the Ford Foundation’s Board of Trustees marking the first time an artist was elected to serve on its board.

About the Moderator:

STEVEN CARAS spent the first fifteen years of his life visualizing himself a dancer before finally gathering the courage to take a class.  Despite the late start, he persevered. Three years later, he was invited to join the prestigious New York City Ballet by its legendary founder, George Balanchine – a dream realized. Caras performed with the company for fourteen years, simultaneously cultivating his added gift as a photographer at Balanchine’s enthusiastic encouragement. Today, Caras is regarded as one of the most prolific photographers of dance in the genre’s history. He continues to photograph, lecture, and guest teach nationwide, concurrently completing his autobiography. To view Caras’ photography, the PBS documentary, Steven Caras: See Them Dance, or Caras’ TEDx talk, visit: www.stevencaras.com