Being a Ballerina
256 pages, 6 x 9
4 b&w illus., 3 appendixes
Paperback
Release Date:27 Apr 2021
ISBN:9780813066899
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Being a Ballerina

The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life

University Press of Florida

Inspiring, revealing, and deeply relatable, Being a Ballerina is a firsthand look at the realities of life as a professional ballet dancer. Through episodes from her own career, Gavin Larsen describes the forces that drive a person to study dance; the daily balance that dancers navigate between hardship and joy; and the dancer’s continual quest to discover who they are as a person and as an artist

Starting with her arrival as a young beginner at a class too advanced for her, Larsen tells how the embarrassing mistake ended up helping her learn quickly and advance rapidly. In other stories of her early teachers, training, and auditions, she explains how she gradually came to understand and achieve what she and her body were capable of.

Larsen then re-creates scenes from her experiences in dance companies, from unglamorous roles to exhilarating performances. Working as a ballerina was shocking and scary at first, she says, recalling unexpected injuries, leaps of faith, and her constant struggle to operate at the level she wanted—but full of enormously rewarding moments. Larsen also reflects candidly on her difficult decision to retire at age 35.

An ideal read for aspiring dancers, Larsen’s memoir will also delight experienced dance professionals and fascinate anyone who wonders what it takes to live a life dedicated to the perfection of the art form.

Gavin Larsen was a professional ballet dancer for 18 years before retiring in 2010. A principal dancer with the Oregon Ballet Theatre, she also danced with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and Alberta Ballet and as a guest artist with Ballet Victoria. She writes and teaches in Asheville, North Carolina.
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