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Raising the Barre : Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker
by Lauren Kessler


Overview - Like generations of little girls, Lauren Kessler fell in love with ballet the first time she saw The Nutcracker , and from that day, at age five, she dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But when she was twelve, her very famous ballet instructor crushed those dreams--along with her youthful self-assurance--and she stepped away from the barre.  Read more...

 
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More About Raising the Barre by Lauren Kessler
 
 
 
Overview
Like generations of little girls, Lauren Kessler fell in love with ballet the first time she saw The Nutcracker, and from that day, at age five, she dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But when she was twelve, her very famous ballet instructor crushed those dreams--along with her youthful self-assurance--and she stepped away from the barre.
Fast forward four decades. Lauren--suddenly, powerfully, itchingly restless at midlife--embarks on a "Transcontinental Nutcracker Binge Tour," where attending a string of performances in Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco reignites her love affair with the ballet--and fuels her girlhood dream.
What ensues is not only a story about The Nutcracker itself, but also an inside look at the seemingly romantic--but oh-so-gritty--world of ballet, about all that happens away from the audience's eye that precedes the magic on stage. It is a tale told from the perspective of someone who not only loves it, but is also seeking to live it. Lauren's quest to dance The Nutcracker with the Eugene Ballet Company tackles the big issues: fear, angst, risk, resilience, the refusal to "settle in" to midlife, the refusal to become yet another Invisible Woman. It is also a very funny, very real look at what it's like to push yourself further than you ever thought you could go--and what happens when you get there.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780738218311
  • ISBN-10: 0738218316
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publish Date: November 2015
  • Page Count: 272


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Entertainment & Performing Arts - General
Books > Performing Arts > Dance - Classical & Ballet
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-10-26
  • Reviewer: Staff

Kessler, an author and journalist, was enjoying a very active midlife both professionally and personally when she decided to take up ballet again. This thoughtful shake-up of her autopilot existence brought about a new attitude toward accepting ones flaws while embracing fear and change. As a girl she fell in love with The Nutcracker. She abandoned dance lessons after overhearing her famous teacher, Andre Elevsky (a former principal with Balanchines New York City Ballet), tell her mother that Kesslers body was all wrong, but her passion for the show didnt fade, and she went on to see it performed dozens of times. When her husband takes a solo business trip to Paris, she seizes the chance to do something for herself and goes on a multicity tour to immerse herself in Nutcrackerland and watch the productions each company offers. Then, following a voice that tells her to be bold, she vows to dance it, this time with her reputable hometown dance group, the Eugene Ballet Company. Giving herself six months to get in dancing shape before the start of the companys new season, the very fit Kessler takes up yoga, Pilates, boxing, and Gyrotonics, where she is often twice the age of her classmates. As she pushes her exhausted body further from its comfort zone and closer to opening night, she inspires readers as she realizes that you cant feel the thrill unless you take the risk. (Nov.)

 
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