Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life

Univ. Pr. of Florida. Apr. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780813066899. pap. $26.95. DANCE
There is power and perfection in this captivating memoir—the power of personal experience and the perfection of writing that carefully captures the life of a dancer. Larsen, now retired, was principal dancer with the Oregon Ballet and guest artist with Ballet Victoria; she also danced with Alberta Ballet and Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Before describing her many positions, however, Larsen starts with an account of her first class at the New York School of Ballet at age eight. She covers the years of study required for every dancer, and along the way introduces readers to memorable teachers and dancers and discusses the roles she inhabited and companies she worked for as a professional dancer. Appended to the memoir are essays on pointe shoes and how to dance with a partner, along with a list of places she has performed.
VERDICT Dancing “full out” means going all out during practice rather than saving energy for the performance. In this memoir Larsen is writing full out, and we are the lucky audience of her performance. Balletomanes, dance students, and aspiring dancers will applaud this absorbing account.
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