Ballet Dancers in Career Transition

July 24, 2009 at 12:37 am | Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment
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Ballet Dancers in Career Transition by

Nancey Upper
McFarland & Company, Inc.,
Jefferson, North Carolina and London

ISBN 0-7864-1819-2

Another book review … !

June 30, 2009 by

Paper Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

Ballet Dancers in Career Transition – by Nancy Upper, foreword by Kevin McKenzie

This book tells the stories of 16 ballet dancers, concentrating on their successful transition from being a professional dancer into another role. Of course it is not possible to discuss transition without summarising the dancer’s careers, and how they got into ballet. From that perspective it is a quick way to acess a large slice of ballet ‘history’ – all be it from a North America point of view. There is also some handy resources for anyone transitioning, or considering transitioning, out of being a profession dancer, in the appendices.

The dancers are:

All of the dancers have things in common: they trained very hard to become dancers, and when they were performing they probably trained even harder. Generally, their bodies could no longer take the physical stresses of classical technique. Some arrived in ballet indirectly – a doctor advised them to take it up, it would improve their gymnastics; for others it was what they always wanted to do. The book examines how they coped when they thing they had worked so hard for, made so many sacrifices for, had attained for a relatively short amount of time, was nolonger available to them. I found myself admiring their dancer achievements and their transition – particularly the transition. For while the training and professional life is hard – there is always a teacher or parent or role model; but the transition is often done – alone, with little support.

There were a number of instances recounted in the book that reall stuck in my mine: Nancy Raffa who was the first women to win the gold medal at the Prix de Lusanne was actually rejected by the School of American Ballet three years previously! Erin Stiefel Inch’s brother is Ethan Stiefel of Center Stage and ABT. Amanda Ose actually never became a ‘full professional’: she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet during her training, but got accepted at Stanford, and decided after much self examination turned her back on what would probably have been a dance career to go to an presdigious university.

I found the book extended my knowledge of ballet and of the human condition.



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