Dancing Through It

Title: Dancing Through It - My Journey in the Ballet
Author: Jenifer Ringer
Publisher: Penguin Group - Viking Adult
Release Date: February 20, 2014

Score: 4/5 quills

"Ask a dancer what her weaknesses are, and she will be able to give you an immediate and very detailed list. Ask a dancer about her strengths, and she has to pause and think about it." -Jenifer Ringer, Dancing Through It

In 2010 Jenifer Ringer-then principal dancer of the New York City Ballet (Ringer retired just this month)-was in the midst of "Sugar Plum-gate." A scathing review in the New York Times attacked her not for a poor performance but for her weight causing the media and the public to explode with reactions. Jenifer was invited to speak her side on NBC's Today and even Oprah and the world watched as she responded with grace about the issues of weight and body image. It was Ringer's personal journey that had prepared her to brush off such a personal attack that would certainly have tested the will of many a dancer in the midst of such an appearance-driven industry.

Ringer's Dancing Through It - My Journey in the Ballet tells of her trials and triumphs while rising through the ranks of a world class ballet company. Jenifer's brilliant career was nearly jeopardized by a battle with an eating disorder accompanied by weight and body image issues. Ringer is very candid about the bad and the good including the renewing and strengthening of her Christian faith that was instrumental in rehabilitating her view toward food and self. She also shares some amusing anecdotes from performances and rehearsals and gives a glimpse into the training required for a professional career in ballet as well as company life at the hub of industry superstars George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. (Believe me, you will never watch Serenade or The Nutcracker the same way again.)

Dancing Through It is written in a charming, frank tone where Ringer's voice is very evident. The brilliance of the book, however, is not in the details of "Sugar Plumgate" (although that was interesting, I admit) or even the events leading up to her marriage to former NYCB principal James Fayette (a sweet story). But the overall message that even in such an all-consuming career as dance, one must have balance in her life is what struck me most. And-as Ringer clearly points out-that balance includes a healthy spirituality. This is a lesson that we all learn at some time or another (some of us the hard way) and from which aspiring ballet dancers would certainly benefit.

Dancing Through It is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com in hardcover and e-reader formats.

A personal note: I did find it hilarious that Jenifer Ringer attended a rival ballet studio to my own in Summerville, South Carolina before transitioning to the Washington School of Ballet. What a small world!

This book was provided to me free of charge from Penguin Group Viking Publishers via Netgalley.com without expectation of a positive review. The opinions stated above are my own.


KC said...

Oh, eating disorders and weight issues are right up on my 'zinger' list of issues that I will stand up and give voice about. Good for for acting with grace and poise and standing up for herself.

This sounds like a fabulous book to read, and I haven't done ballet since I was in 3rd grade :)

Jenn said...

Thanks for your comment, Katie! Jenifer is definitely a great role model. Highly recommend the book even for non-dancers because anyone can glean some value from what she writes.


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