Hailed as one of the great American ballet dancers of our time, David Hallberg made history when he achieved the position of principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet. He was the first American to be asked to dance as a member of the world-renowned Russian company, and he did this while also maintaining his position of principal dancer with ABT – arguably the finest ballet company in the United States.
I admit I have been following Hallberg’s career for quite some time. He grew up in South Dakota (the state just south of mine), and thanks to the support of his parents and a move to Arizona (where top ballet training is more accessible), he was able to rise to a very elite level of this art form. I remember the day I learned that Hallberg was injured, and beyond that, following his social media posts about his surgery and then, for what seemed an eternity, nothing.
David Hallberg suffered a fracture in his foot that required multiple surgeries, and still, he was unable to dance. Hallberg details his struggle, his depression and his desperation in the book. Thankfully, through the help of team of talented PT dance professionals in Australia, he was able to recover and dance again.
I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. His story is interesting in it’s own right, but I appreciated Hallberg’s honesty about his journey; and I also especially enjoyed his insights into his personal dance growth. Dancers typically are not satisfied with their own technique. Hallberg is no exception, but he had a drive to better himself. This drive allowed him to take risks, like training in Paris and Russia, or seeking roles outside the Princely characters he was known for. At times I felt sad for him – he was too isolated, and seemed lonely, even as he was so famous.
Ultimately, every dancer knows their career will end before they want it to, but coming face to face with a career-ending injury isn’t welcomed by anyone. I hope that for David Hallberg, he will dance until he decides, on his own terms, that it’s time to step off the stage.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2017