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Toni Bentley

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Occupation  Writer
Nationality  Australian
Name  Toni Bentley

Period  1982-Present
Role  Writer
Genre  Non-fiction
Toni Bentley ToniBentleycom Books by Toni Bentley Publishers
Awards  Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada
Books  The Surrender: An Erotic, Sisters of Salome, Winter season, Holding on to the Air, Costumes by Karinska
Similar People  Suzanne Farrell, George Balanchine, Peter Martins, Jock Soto, Darci Kistler

Notable awards  Guggenheim Fellowship
Education  School of American Ballet

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Toni Bentley (born 1958) is an Australian-American dancer and writer. Bentley was born in Perth, Australia.



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Family and early life

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Her father, P. J. Bentley, is an Australian biologist and endocrinologist. Her brother, Dr. David Bentley, is a molecular biologist at the University of Denver. She took her first ballet class at age four in Bristol, England and entered the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, at age ten. At age seventeen she joined George Balanchine's New York City Ballet where she performed for ten years under his tutelage. She retired from the stage at age 26 due to a hip injury.


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Bentley has written five books. Winter Season, A Dancer's Journal, was published when she was 22 years old by Random House. It is a diary of her life as a corps-de-ballet dancer in the New York City Ballet. It was called "a mini-marvel" by Robert Craft in the New York Review of Books. Her other books include Holding On to the Air: the Autobiography of Suzanne Farrell (co-authored with Farrell), (Simon & Schuster, 1990), Costumes by Karinska, (Harry N. Abrams,1995) about Russian costumer designer Barbara Karinska, Sisters of Salome, (Yale University Press, 2002), a cultural history of the femme fatale and origins of modern striptease, and The Surrender, An Erotic Memoir (ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 2004). All of her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. She has written essays and reviews for the New York Times Book Review, Vogue, The New Republic, Bookforum, and CR Fashionbook. Her essay "The Bad Lion," originally published in the New York Review of Books, was selected for The Best American Essays 2010 by editor Christopher Hitchens.

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She has given lectures at Harvard University, the Oscar Wilde Society, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, the University of North Florida, the Philoctetes Society, and at THiNK 2013. In 2008 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In 2012, Clayton James Cubitt created a video series entitled Hysterical Literature. Shot clinically in black and white, each film shows a fully dressed woman reading a passage from a book of her choice while brought to orgasm by a vibrator controlled by an unseen assistant under the table. Some of the series features "friends and industry comrades" including Bentley.

The Surrender

This book caused considerable notoriety upon publication in 2004 due to its subject matter: heterosexual sodomy and the author's celebration of female sexual submission. The subject has since received considerable mainstream attention due to the worldwide popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey. The book has been translated into eighteen languages. A one-woman play adaptation of The Surrender, La Rendición directed by Spanish film director Sigfrid Monleón adapted by Swiss-German actress Isabelle Stoffel had its premiere in Spanish in Madrid at the Microteatro Por Dinero in January 2012. Stoffel starred in the production. It was subsequently produced by the Spanish National Theatre (Centro Dramático Nacional) in January 2013 at the Teatro María Guerrero in Madrid. The play had its English-language world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2013, and had its American premiere at the Clurman Theatre in New York City in January 2014. It has also been performed in Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Valencia, and in a German-language version, Die Hingabe in Kiel, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland.


  • Winter Season, A Dancer’s Journal (Random House, 1982)
  • Holding On to the Air (Simon & Schuster, 1990)
  • Costumes by Karinska (Harry N. Abrams, 1995)
  • Sisters of Salome (Yale University Press, 2002)
  • The Surrender, An Erotic Memoir (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2004)
  • Anthologies

  • Remembering Lincoln (editor Nancy Reynolds, The Ballet Society, 2007)
  • Reading Dance (editor Robert Gottlieb, Pantheon Books, 2008)
  • Dirty Words, A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex (editor Ellen Sussman, Bloomsbury, 2008)
  • Best American Essays 2010 (editor Christopher Hitchens, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)
  • New York Diaries 1609-2009 (editor Teresa Carpenter, Modern Library, 2012)
  • References

    Toni Bentley Wikipedia