Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina

Holt. Jul. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781250244307. $27.99. DANCE
Pazcoguin, who calls herself “the Rogue Ballerina,” has danced with the New York City Ballet (NYCB) since 2002, and in 2013 became the first Asian American woman soloist in the company. Her passionate relationship with dance started young, and in this book she tracks her ballet trajectory—from her first class at age four; to the School of American Ballet, where she learned the Balanchine style; to her current position as a principal dancer at NYCB. Pazcoguin writes about her struggles and some of the abuse she’s suffered: eating disorders; emotional trauma inflicted by Peter Martins, the former artistic director of NYCB; and ballet’s physical toll on her body. Pazcoguin writes with astounding passion about her achievements, and her prose is enchanting as she describes finally becoming comfortable in her own skin. Vulnerable, raw, and full of grit, this is the story of a woman who has been broken yet has clawed her way to victory. “From this point on, the narrative belongs to me,” she writes.
VERDICT A moving memoir that will resonate with readers who appreciate the exquisite form of ballet, as well as those hungry for a personal tale of darkness, passion, and euphoric triumph.
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