How did Hippo in a Tutu come about? Was the book commissioned by Disney, and, if so, what was it like working for them? Did they play an active editorial role or did the company take a hands-off approach?

The book was the brainchild of one editor at Disney Editions: the choreographer Christopher Caines. In working on books for the company, he realized that, although there were a number concerning music in Disney films, there was nothing about dance. He contacted me because I’d written about Disney dance and animation, in 1992, in the weekly unsigned Dance column I filed for several years at The New Yorker. In that column, I weighed the way Disney and Warner Bros. treated dance and concluded that Disney treated it far more respectfully and accurately than Warner’s. Christopher already had the title Hippo in a Tutu when he – and, eventually, Wendy Lefkon, the editorial director of Disney Editions – approached me about doing the book. And he served as editor on the project.

However, insofar as the content is concerned, I had free reign. There was absolutely no censorship of any sort. In fact, when I made my three trips to the studio archives in Burbank and Glendale, I was treated with tremendous consideration and thoroughness. And many, many Disney historians, performers, directors, aficionados bent over backwards to meet with me and help. I hope that I name them all in the acknowledgements, for it truly took a village to bring together all the complex themes and information that the story required.

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