Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: General Nonfiction
Competition: US & Canada
Now an accomplished writer, Australian-born Toni Bentley orginally intended to be a dancer. She took her first ballet class at age four and entered the School of American Ballet, the official School of the New York City Ballet, at age ten while attending Professional Children’s School for academics. At eighteen she joined George Balanchine's New York City Ballet and danced there for ten years. However, her writing talent was emerging as well: her first book, Winter Season: A Dancer’s Journal (Random House, 1982), about her life in the NYCB, was written when she was only twenty-two.
When three years later a hip injury abruptly ended her dance career, she took up her pen again. She has since published Holding On to the Air: The Autobiography of Suzanne Farrell (co-authored with Farrell) (Summit Books, 1990), Costumes by Karinska, (Harry Abrams, 1995), Sisters of Salome, (Yale UP, 2002), and The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir (Harper Collins, 2004). All five of her books were named New York Times Notable Books and The Surrender has been translated into twelve languages. Numerous articles and reviews by Ms. Bentley have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Arts & Antiques, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Smithsonian, Ballet Review, Dance Magazine, the New Republic, BookForum, and the New York Review of Books. She has been an invited speaker at Harvard University, the Oscar Wilde Society, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among other venues. Her Guggenheim Fellowship appointment is for a work of general nonfiction.
Toni Bentley offers her review of the Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, in the Wall Street Journal online.