PERFORMING ARTS

Dancer Interrupted: A Memoir

Tampico. 2019. 194p. photos. ISBN 9780989919425. pap. $16. MUSIC
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By junior high, Priver knew ballet was “what she was meant to do,” and despite countless blisters and bloody toenails and a bacterial infection that sidelined her for a year, she earned student scholarships to Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, enjoyed audiences with “Mr. B” and chats with Lincoln Kirstein, and shared elevators with Rudolph Nureyev and classes with prima ballerina Alexandra Danilova. “My plan was to dance until I died,” Priver writes in this forthright memoir. She powered through her first depressive episode at 16 and maintained her “bone thin” weight with unhealthy habits. Priver’s early chapters name-drop and dance lightly over her fragile mental state, but later she writes about being let go from the Cleveland Ballet and moving back in with her dysfunctional parents. As they ping-ponged from supportive to insulting, Priver spent months almost immobile on their couch, coping with weight gain, making attempts at therapy, and eventually working toward recovery and independence. She recounts awkward trysts and a relationship with an emotionally abusive man but concludes on a hopeful note—yoga and acting helped satisfy her desire to move, perform, find community, and express something bigger than herself.
VERDICT Both a cautionary tale for aspiring dancers and a stirring story of grappling with mental illness, this offering will find an audience in many public libraries.

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