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Reading Ashley Killar’s compelling biography, Cranko: The man and his choreography, feels like studying the modernisation of ballet in three countries, the way ballet eats up lives as often as it forms families of peers and lovers, and the unending devotion required for creativity to flourish. It is pleasing to learn how a determined man with an ever-rattling mind, backed by a calm, philosophical manager, could challenge opera house dominance to make the Stuttgart Ballet an independent entity, with its own school supported by a philanthropic institution named after the city’s first ballet master of the 1750s, Jean-Georges Noverre, whom David Garrick called ‘the Shakespeare of the dance’.

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