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February 17, 1985|MARTIN BERNHEIMER

Men Dancing by Alexander Bland and John Percival (Macmillan: $35) tries to examine the gradual rise of the primo ballerino in terms of history, sociology, psychology, biography and interpretive criticism. Focusing briefly on just about every notable dancing virtuoso from Astaire to Vestris, it obviously tries to do too much, and in too little space (176 glossy pages). Moreover, the authors--three in all, since Bland is the joint pseudonym of Nigel Gosling and his wife Maude Lloyd--tend to gush just when one most wants them to analyze. Nevertheless, the book does serve as an attractive reference guide, and it does offer useful information about a number of personalities who do not happen to command household names. With its wealth of handsome illustrations, it no doubt will find a proud place on many a homophilic balletomane's coffee table.

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