I am very select about the books I choose to read these days. I don’t add a book to my to-be-read list until I’ve researched it very carefully. Still, when I picked up this work of non-fiction, I thought to myself “what was I thinking?” Why would I want to read about a middle-aged woman who sets a goal of dancing in the Nutcracker? Well, the research paid off, and I’m very glad I took the time to read this book.
Kessler reminds me a bit of George Plimpton. One of George Plimpton’s many accomplishments, was how he (a non-professional athlete) managed to play for the Detroit Lions Football team, and write about his experiences in his book, Paper Lion. Well, Kessler did the same thing, only with ballet. She convinced the Artistic Director of the Eugene Ballet Company to let her dance in their annual touring production of the Nutcracker. She was a 45 year old woman with some extra weight who hadn’t taken ballet lessons in 33 years. Immediately I identified with Ms. Kessler. Except I don’t have nearly the courage or dedication that she does. In the beginning I thought she’d be given a role that didn’t require any real dancing. Much to my surprise, she was given the role of Aunt Rose and had two dances in the first Act. I was impressed with her commitment to this project, and I was impressed with the kindness and cooperation of the ballet company.
Ms. Kessler wrote of her experiences with warmth and humor, and her introspection and lessons learned I found to be valuable, not just for the author, but for anyone who seeks to improve themselves or reach a higher goal. I also enjoyed learning about the life of dancer from someone who isn’t actually a dancer. Because Lauren Kessler is a lot like me, seeing it through her eyes gave a unique and fitting perspective to better understand the profession. This was a wonderful book.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2015
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