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Illusions of Camelot: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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From the artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and former principal dancer for the New York City Ballet comes an unforgettable memoir about one artist’s journey from boyhood to ballet.
Peter’s story starts in the pastoral and privileged town of Bedford, New York: a rare enclave 40 miles north of New York City where private schools, country clubs, and families hold their own rules and secrets. Within the town, views of race, morality, and sexuality are unspoken yet evident. Meanwhile, at home, Peter and his family are left to grapple with his father’s alcoholism and untimely death.
As a young boy finding his way, Peter soon turns to ballet. Ultimately his passion becomes a beacon, leading him to work at the New York City Ballet as a teenager, living on his own while discovering the pitfalls and pleasures Manhattan has to offer.
Throughout Peter’s deeply personal work, you’ll meet Hattie Lindsay, Peter’s caregiver, whose love for Peter matches her disdain for Henry, the family dog. You’ll step onto the club house floor during ballroom dancing lessons in Bedford, into the studios of the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center, and onto the stage in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker as Peter performs the title role of the Nutcracker Prince.
For all the laughter these stories offer, gravity is everywhere. Moments by Balanchine’s hospital bedside, or in the AIDS-ravaged ward at Columbia-Presbyterian hospital as a loved one’s life passes away are told with painful honesty and raw hurt. Peter’s journey takes us to the start of a storied career as a dancer with the New York City Ballet and leaves us with insights into the unique path of an artist and individual shaped by environment, circumstance, and family.
About the Author
Peter Boal was raised in Bedford, New York. At the age of nine, he began studying ballet at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. Boal became a member of New York City Ballet's corps de ballet in 1983 and became a principal dancer in 1989. In 2005, he retired from New York City Ballet after a 22-year career with the company. Boal currently works as the artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington.
“A generous, grateful account of discovering ballet as a career, it’s about the discovery of friends, sexuality, and values…every word and every sentence matters. Subtle variations of tone take the reader, enchantingly, between charm, pain, and humour.” —Alastair Macaulay, New York Times Chief Dance Critic, 2007-2018
"Boal takes us on the journey of his young life, offering laughter, love and reflection along the way. A remarkable memoir indeed." —Maria Semple, NY Times bestselling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadett