A Dancer in Depth

Paragraphs from a Theatre Life

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
262 Pages
Reviewed on 11/18/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

"You should write a book!" This is a normal response from strangers to Stanley Howard Mazin's verbal story about his life in show business, and there's a good reason for that. Stanley relates his vibrant, stimulating life story and his various theatrical exploits firsthand in A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life. Ever since he had his first dance experience as a child at Lou Crescenta’s School of Dance in South Philadelphia, he has taken on a good number of theatrical roles, among which are writing, choreography, acting, directing, teaching dance, and dance hosting. Stanley shares numerous memorable moments from his active, adventure-filled life, such as almost crashing while flying his plane, making friends while vacationing in Egypt, engaging with romantic partners, and working with celebrities and different amazing people.

A highly energetic, addictive, and funny memoir, A Dancer in Depth inspired me to take every opportunity to live life to the fullest. As expected from a book about an artist's career in show business, it includes several awe-inspiring encounters with celebrities like Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The nonlinear narrative is tightly packed with vividly portrayed stories and intriguing scenes that will keep you engaged from the first page to the last. It consists of a variety of themes, including life lessons, regrets, travel, romance, relationship issues, pets, acting, aging, dancing, homosexuality, and loss. Theater fans and artists will love this autobiography, mainly because it includes a plethora of captivating stories from behind the scenes and on stage. I smile every time I remember the soulful connections Stanley Howard Mazin made with friends, lovers, and co-workers in different parts of the world. What a thrilling experience!

Diana Lopez

A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life is a comprehensive autobiography in which Stanley Howard Mazin recounts his lifetime in show business, beginning with the influence of his parents. He describes his adolescence and how he gradually discovered new things about his sexuality and his passion for dancing. He portrays an appealing lifestyle in which everything is possible. He met several celebrities and influential people and traveled to places in Europe and Africa. He describes both lost opportunities and experiences gained in his dancing and acting work, which he narrates objectively. The memoir provides a realistic perspective of how difficult but interesting show business can be. Mazin doesn't just focus on glamour and fame but balances the happy and sad moments.

Stanley Howard Mazin expresses himself candidly and describes unexpected situations during his auditions, work, and travel. There is no chronological order in his stories, so each feels like a person telling you an anecdote. The visual aspect is helpful, and I loved the photographs that are included in the book. Mazin does not use explicit language, but there are many sexual references relating to his experiences with men and women, so I would recommend this book to an adult audience. A Dancer in Depth is about true life stories where the passion for art, performance, and dance remains paramount.

Romuald Dzemo

A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life by Stanley Howard Mazin is a book in which the author shares some interesting episodes from his life. It takes readers from the early life of the author through his education and professional life, with insights and humor sprinkled throughout. His mother was a lesbian and was married to his father for sixteen years before getting divorced. His father is described as being possessive because he loved his wife deeply and even accused her of fooling around with a man considered his and the wife’s friend. The author eventually moved to Hollywood. To pay his way through college he did multiple part-time jobs, including being a "busboy" in a restaurant and a pool boy. As he matures, he shares his experiences and encounters, at times in a voice that is quirky and arresting, without losing the casualness that is distinctive of his character. He writes about his sexual adventures with other partners with clarity and grace, showing the impact that each person had on his life.

A Dancer in Depth by Stanley Howard Mazin is an interesting memoir told in a humorous tone. It contains strong gay themes and scenes that describe casual sex. There are intriguing characters like Rick Zachara who was sexually involved with the author, a man with a deep voice and a very large nose who always "sounded as if he should blow his nose to clear his voice." This book is written with utter honesty and while there are some questionable things like dancers stealing towels from a hotel and sending them home through the mail, readers will find them hilarious. The author also pays great homage to Dom, the man with whom he has been in a relationship for forty-four years. While it is not written in stellar prose, it is an episodic tale that follows the adventures of a dancer and that will delight readers who enjoy books with LGBTQ themes.

Tammy Ruggles

A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life by Stanley Howard Mazin is an incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking book as the author treats readers to slices of his life. Not a showbiz memoir, but not a full-blown autobiography either, it is more like a series of snapshots from the intriguing life of a dancer. The book shares anecdotes about his craft, his peers, and the world of the arts in general. One can feel the exuberance from this artist coming through the pages. This is a person who has devoted his gifts and talents to dance, and received rewards in both tangible and intangible ways. Besides being creative, those who know him say he is a kind-hearted person, which isn't always seen in the competitive world of the arts. His devotion to his work in the theater, and life itself, is inspiring.

Mazin delivers a positive message in his life philosophy and one that aspiring artists can emulate. The way he delivers it is non-traditional and refreshing, not in a particular order as one might expect, but in paragraphs, ideas, and nuggets of wisdom. He does dive deeply into some while keeping others lighthearted. The photos add such realism to the anecdotes that one feels as if one knows the author and those he depicts. His stories of high school, part-time jobs, making and getting breaks, and thoughts on time and getting older are priceless. One of my favorite recollections is of the early times with his mother, when he was her "fair-haired golden boy." Mazin comes across as honest as he describes his mother's special relationship with another woman, Freda. If you love getting lost in a life story that is well-told in an easy, engaging tone, make A Dancer in Depth by Stanley Howard Mazin your next read.

Maria Victoria Beltran

A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life by Stanley Howard Mazin is an inspiring story of a life spent in the colorful world of show business. Born in 1939, the author has been in show business since 1963. As a young boy, he had always shown interest in performing but was not allowed by his mother to take a theater course in college. This does not deter him from pursuing what he loves to do most. He goes on to perform in several Broadway shows, TV shows, and films while traveling the world and exploring his sexuality. In this book, he reminisces about the events in his life as he works with celebrities like Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, George Carlin, Petula Clark, Tim Conway, Lena Horne, Mitzi Gaynor, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, and many others. He is also an accomplished choreographer and director.

As the title suggests, Stanley Howard Mazin’s A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs from a Theatre Life is an entertaining collection of the author’s memories, written in unsystematic order. Mazin’s writing style is pleasant and friendly, revealing a carefree spirit with extraordinary talent. He takes us behind the scenes of the glittering world of show business, and it is a truly fascinating world. Yet as delightful as the anecdotes are in this memoir, it is an honest picture of the life of a performer. Admirably unsentimental and at times funny, Mazin has created a literary piece that is also a social history of the theater scene and a revealing and exciting memoir of the life of a talented human being.