Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO


Becoming Ginger Rogers is one woman's inspiring journey to reclaim her life during the dispiriting days of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11, the unraveling of a successful business she co-founded, and the prolonged illness and death of her beloved husband.

In this delightful memoir, Patrice Tanaka shares her story of how, at age 50, she started ballroom dance lessons to satisfy a lifelong dream of dancing like Ginger Rogers and, through ...

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Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO

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Becoming Ginger Rogers is one woman's inspiring journey to reclaim her life during the dispiriting days of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11, the unraveling of a successful business she co-founded, and the prolonged illness and death of her beloved husband.

In this delightful memoir, Patrice Tanaka shares her story of how, at age 50, she started ballroom dance lessons to satisfy a lifelong dream of dancing like Ginger Rogers and, through it, found her way to unimaginable joy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Five months after 9/11 and distraught from the loss of life, the shaky economy, and her husband's brain tumor, Tanaka, a 50-something cancer survivor and highly successful PR executive, began to see a life coach who urged her to take dance lessons as a means of rediscovering joy and purpose in her life. After one lesson, it turned into a passion, and Tanaka gradually blossomed into a competitive ballroom dancer who fell in love with herself—the person she had avoided for so many years while tending to the needs of others. Tanaka details her many triumphant PR campaigns: for Dyson during New York City's Fashion Week (topless models walked the runway pushing vacuum cleaners), and by helping the aging Liz Claiborne brand regain its innovative edge by adopting the issue of domestic violence. Tanaka says ballroom dancing gave her more poise and confidence when making business presentations, which she now leads with joy and passion.) Although not sufficiently gripping to garner a widespread audience, this is an absorbing, inspirational memoir of a gutsy woman navigating through crises toward self-fulfillment. Photos. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

" absorbing, inspirational memoir of a gutsy woman navigating through crises toward self-fulfillment."
— Publishers Weekly

"Becoming Gingers Rogers is a timely exploration of the problems faced by high-flying modern women, as well as a persuasive manifesto for the real-world applications of ballroom—and for the sheer joy of dance."
— Dance Today

“Tanaka's toe-tapping tale of how she awakens to the rhythms of her body and learns to dance through her mistakes — at work as well as in the ballroom — shines with inspiration. It may even send you off to buy a sequined dress and some Ginger Rogers shoes of your own.”
— Alice Schroeder, best-selling author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

“In her compelling Becoming Ginger Roger: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, a Better Partner and Smarter CEO, she reports how she reached stardom in her newfound hobby while morphing her into a more effective manager and boss. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!”
— Harold Burson, Founder and Chairman, Burson-Marsteller

"If you’re a “Dancing With the Stars” fan, you'll love this book about ballroom dancing and how it transformed Patrice Tanaka's life and made her a happier woman and more successful CEO."
— Edyta Sliwinska, Ballroom Champion, “Dancing With the Stars” Seasons 1-10

"This is such a great analogy … how performing fearlessly in the ballroom world can impact one's courage and perspective in the business world. Patrice Tanaka's inspiring memoir about the lessons she learned on the dance floor and how she applied them to her life and career is a joy to read."
— Nina DiSesa, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, McCann New York

Becoming Ginger Rogers is about performing full out and fearlessly in the ballroom world and adopting that approach to great success in the business world. As her client of more than a decade, I can vouch for that being the case. Patrice has written a joyful and inspiring memoir about the lessons learned from competitive ballroom dancing that have helped her to a richly rewarding business and personal life.”
— Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, President, Charles Schwab Foundation

“If you’ve ever thought about learning to ballroom dance, this inspiring book by Patrice Tanaka will convince you to run, not walk, to your nearest dance studio.”
— John Kimmins, President, Arthur Murray Studios

“Through [Tanaka’s] courage and sense of purpose she makes us see what love and determination can achieve."
— Madeline DeVries Hooper, Founder, DeVries PR

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936661039
  • Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Pages: 271
  • Sales rank: 252,945
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrice Tanaka is co-chair, chief creative officer, and whatcanbe SM ambassador for CRT/tanaka, an entity she helped co-found in September 2005. Her agency has been recognized as the “Best Agency to Work for in America,” “Most Admired Mid-Size PR Agency in the U.S.,” and “#1 Most Creative PR Agency in America,” among other accolades by various PR organizations and trade media. CRT/tanaka has also won more than 300 PR and marketing awards for client campaigns.

Patrice has been honored by many public relations, marketing, business, and civic organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), The Holmes Group (“Creativity All-Star” Award), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), Association for Women in Communications (“Headliner” Award), Girl Scout Council of Greater New York (“Woman of Distinction” Award), Working Mother Magazine (“Mothering That Works” Award), and Asian Women in Business (“Entrepreneurial Leadership Award”).

Born and raised in Hawaii, Patrice graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1974 and following that worked as an editor at Hawaii Press Newspapers in Honolulu and later served as PR Director of the Hotel Inter-Continental Maui in Wailea. In 1979, she fulfilled a life-long dream of moving to New York City. Patrice joined Jessica Dee Communications, a PR agency she helped to build, which was acquired by Chiat/Day Advertising in 1987. In 1990, she led a management buyback of a group of eleven colleagues to co-found PT&Co. and served as the PR agency’s CEO & Chief Creative Officer. In 2005, Patrice and her co-founders sold PT&Co. to Richmond, Virginia-based Carter Ryley Thomas to form CRT/tanaka.

A widow since 2003, Patrice lives in Manhattan. She devotes much of her free time to serving on the boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and girls, including the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the American Friends of Phelophepa (the South African health care train), and Asian Women in Business. She also serves on the Past Presidents Council of New York Women in Communications and is a former trustee and member of the Women’s Forum New York. Patrice is a competitive ballroom dancer and avid tennis player.

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Read an Excerpt

Becoming Ginger Rogers

How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO
By Patrice Tanaka

BenBella Books

Copyright © 2011 Patrice Tanaka
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781936661039

The Samba

The American rhythm samba, which Tony so skillfully choreographed for my samba showcase, captivated me in the musical Flying Down to Rio long before I knew the name of the dance. The ballroom samba evolved from the wilder Brazilian version that can still be seen today, when thousands of dancers—some nearly naked, others in elaborate costumes—frolic their way through the streets of Rio during Carnival. Ballroom samba attempts to keep the spirit of the original while translating it into patterns the average social dancer can learn and enjoy.

If the American rhythm version of samba were a character from literature, it would be the irrepressible Tigger: bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, and fun, fun, fun! The timing and coordination of the flexing and straightening of the knees gives the dance its characteristic bouncy motion, which looks and feels very different from all the other rhythm dances. Yet the infectious bounce must be quarantined to the lower half of the body. No bobbing heads or rocking shoulders. Stillness but not rigidity upstairs: picture a fluidly moving showgirl balancing a spectacular feathered headdress, and remember that a wobble up top will bring everything crashing. Downstairs is where you throw the party. In the early stages of learning samba, you may feel that your knees and feet should be thrown in the slammer for disorderly conduct, for going a little too crazy and always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In more advanced stages of learning, the party really takes off, as your feet and knees cooperate and you also roll the hips and flick the pelvis back and forth. (No side-to-side motion allowed!)

The rhythm of samba follows a "one-a-two” syncopated count. Beginners can find it difficult to process that each step taken does not correspond to a single beat of music. The first step, "one” of the count, occurs over three quarters of a single beat of music. The second step, "a” of the count, takes a quarter of a beat of music. One beat of music, two steps. The third step, "two” of the count, requires a full beat of music. One beat of music, one step. None of the steps takes the same length of time. Samba is a very lively dance, so it’s important to master the rhythm before trying to learn a lot of patterns.

While all the other rhythm dances cover a limited patch of the floor, the samba travels. The Latin or pop music is playing fast, and the dancers smile and bounce as they make their way around the entire floor. With all the hip-rolling and pelvic-ticking, samba is also unabashedly sexy and looks most natural when the dancer feels earthy and vibrant and does not hesitate to show it. Yet perhaps because of the foot speed, rapid coordination, and upper-body stillness required—all of which demand a lot of physical control—samba does not look raunchy or vulgar, it simply exudes the joy of being alive. Alma Guillermoprieto, a former pro dancer and current journalist, sums up the samba this way: "There is no point to samba if it doesn’t make you smile.”


Excerpted from Becoming Ginger Rogers by Patrice Tanaka Copyright © 2011 by Patrice Tanaka. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Whirl of Manhattan
Chapter 2: The Arabian Prince
Chapter 3: “What Brings You Joy?”
Intermezzo: Foxtrot
Chapter 4: Samba Girl
Intermezzo: Samba
Chapter 5: The Ballroom World and the Real World
Intermezzo: Tango
Chapter 6: Practice Failing—in the Ballroom and in the Boardroom
Intermezzo: Rumba
Chapter 7: Partnering for Success—with or without Chocolate
Intermezzo: Mambo
Chapter 8: You Must Be Present to Win: Going with the Flow and Celebrating Successes along the Way Intermezzo: Viennese Waltz
Chapter 9: whatcanbe: Leading with Your Heart
Coda: Cha Cha
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Wonderful Book!!!

    I loved Patrice's book. She made this wonderful experience with ballroom dancing into a must read for any business person. The lessons learned are truly universal and it was great to see this deftly put to pen by a captivating story teller. I can't wait to see what she writes next!

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    A true inspiration!

    What a joy to read! Patrice's "no hold barred" approach gives this book depth and inspiration. Regardless of your interests, profession, or station in life, Patrice's book has something for everyone. A true inspiration!

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Inspiring, entertaining, informative

    Inspiring, entertaining, informative - on so many levels. This is a beautiful story about how a very successful businesswoman transformed and reinvigorated both her personal life and her professional life at age 50 by pursuing a lifelong dream to learn ballroom dancing. For Tanaka, ballroom dancing became a "life raft" during a particularly challenging time. She does a great job of taking the reader along for the ride through her experiences, realizations, and transformations. Immediately, I was swept into the book's current by the hilarious story about a fantastic and memorable PR campaign for Dyson vacuum cleaners, and I read straight through! I found myself really rooting for Tanaka, and that extended to a feeling that I was also rooting for myself and for others I know who have experienced similar trials and challenges. One of the biggest joys of this book, for me, is the author doesn't hold anything back -- she's completely honest about her personal and professional trials as well as her personal and professional triumphs. She wrote the book in the same manner in which she has learned to dance - no-holds-barred. The book is very valuable as a straight business memoir (but it's also so much more than that), as Tanaka gives a totally candid and informative account of the inner workings of a PR agency and of some high-profile campaigns, like the Dyson one. You don't need to be a PR insider to benefit from the view - the information will be valuable to anyone involved in service-oriented, creative, or entrepreneurial business. I found the book to be very well paced and nicely balanced between the business stories, the personal stories, and the dance stories. Even though I'm not a dance fan per se, I thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating looking inside the world of competitive ballroom dancing. I also thoroughly enjoyed Tanaka's commentary on specific dances (in the Intermezzo sections) and her descriptions of individual moves and steps. She's very generous in sharing insights dance has given her and how they apply to other areas of her life. Tanaka rediscovers feminine aspects of herself through dance. I think this is a very powerful part of the story, as women often abandon feminine qualities because they feel it's necessary to successfully compete in the male-dominated business world. Tanaka beautifully illustrates the power and strength that embracing feminine energy gives her in both her personal and professional experiences. This book has so much to offer on many levels. I loved it!

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