Turning pointe : how a new generation of dancers is saving ballet from itself

by Angyal, Chloe,

Format: Print Book 2021
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A reckoning with one of our most beloved art forms, whose past and present are shaped by gender, racial, and class inequities--and a look inside the fight for its future

Every day, in dance studios all across America, legions of little children line up at the barre to take ballet class. This time in the studio shapes their lives, instilling lessons about gender, power, bodies, and their place in the world both in and outside of dance.

In Turning Pointe , journalist Chloe Angyal captures the intense love for ballet that so many dancers feel, while also grappling with its devastating shortcomings: the power imbalance of an art form performed mostly by women, but dominated by men; the impossible standards of beauty and thinness; and the racism that keeps so many people of color out of ballet. As the rigid traditions of ballet grow increasingly out of step with the modern world, a new generation of dancers is confronting these issues head on, in the studio and on stage. For ballet to survive the twenty-first century and forge a path into a more socially just future, this reckoning is essential.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "According to a 2019 estimate, there are 53,000 dance schools teaching ballet in the U.S. These educational institutions are under threat of extinction, and that is not just due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Angyal, a journalist and former dancer, raises the curtain and goes backstage to reveal why this beloved cultural tradition is imperiled. The individuals she profiles in her reporting are all involved in ballet in some way, from teachers and students to dancers, parents, healthcare professionals, and choreographers. Angyal roots out several factors that contributed to the vulnerability and dysfunction of ballet in today's society, beginning with its Eurocentric ideals and demand for a particular physical form of perfection. She then explains why the often-prohibitive costs of training and performing, more insidious exclusionary practices, the lack of interest among boys, and the emotional and physical tolls of a dedicated ballet practice have all played a part in bringing the future of ballet to a crossroads. If ballet is to survive and thrive, Angyal declares emphatically, there must be a seismic shift. Change is imperative."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this captivating debut, journalist Angyal mounts a thorough examination of classical ballet's fraught history of racial, sexual, and class bias and the reckoning from within that's pushing to change it. "If ballet survives," she writes, "it will be because of the individuals and institutions who are demanding that it do better." Drawing from interviews with the dancers, teachers, and artistic directors working to do just that, Angyal reveals the systemic inequality propping up a fragile ecosystem that, for over a century, has denied opportunities to Black dancers and those who don't "look really, really fit." However, in the past decade, she notes, dancers have been fighting back, filing harassment lawsuits and establishing such trailblazing companies as Ballez, which is "just what it sounds like... lesbians doing ballet." While in the past, dancers learned "to physically submit, to disregard their feelings," today--and even more so, Angyal notes, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests--they are speaking out against double standards favoring males, arbitrary rules about weight, and the lack of racial diversity in the industry. Timely and thought-provoking, this book is a must for ballet lovers and anyone interested in the cultural conversation. (May)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Ballet.
Dance -- Sex differences.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description viii, 292 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references, filmography (page 261), and index.
ISBN 9781645036708
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