"Vanlessen is a paragon of classicism: a dancer who combines elegance with effortless virtuosity." - Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, 2017.
"Ballet is a mirror that I stand in front of to discover what drives, inspires, excites, scares and surprises me. Creating this book has been a way to turn the mirror outward and to share the many words, images, experiences and reflections with you." - Wim Vanlessen.
This book is an ode to dance. It's a tribute to the very precise, timeless form of physical expression, known as ballet, told from the perspective of a man who has spent more than thirty years of his life devoted to the art that many try, yet few master. This book answers the question: Who does a dancer need to be? Part memoir, part visual history and pure joy, this book offers insight into the life and career of Wim Vanlessen, principal dancer for the Royal Ballet of Flanders. On the cusp of his farewell to the company after more than two decades in the spotlight, Wim recounts key moments from his personal life that have shaped him as a dancer and a man. He's a person that has placed his passion above all else, with an unflinching and unforgiving drive to become the best ballet dancer he can be. Featuring special contributions from stars in the worlds of fashion, dance and photography: Raf Simons, Kathryn Bennetts, Stephan Vanfleteren, Willy Vanderperre, Wendy Whelan, Stephen Galloway, and many others.
This book is published on the occasion of Wim Vanlessen's last show at the Royal Balles of Flanders: Bejart's Bolero.
Michael Gardner earned his M.F.A. in Non-fiction Writing from Saint Mary's College of California in 2005. His essays have appeared in various American literary journals, such as the Sonora Review and the Seneca Review. His essay The Competitive Lives of Gay Twins was published in the anthology, From Boys to Men, (Carroll & Graf, 2006), which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Anthology. Published worldwide in 2017-2018 by Flammarion, he wrote Axel Vervoordt: Stories and Reflections and collaborated with May Vervoordt on the content, text and interviews for the lifestyle cookbook, At Home With May and Axel Vervoordt. In addition to a Pushcart Prize nomination, his work has received recognition as a finalist for the New Letters Best Essay Award in 2006 and as a finalist for the 2006 Nonfiction Award from The Guild Literary Complex in Chicago. As a freelance writer and copywriter, his work has been published in fashion and lifestyle magazines, as well as various art catalogues.