Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet

Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet

4.3 6
by Jenifer Ringer
     
 

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A behind-the-curtains look at the rarefied world of classical ballet from a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet

In her charming and self-effacing voice, Jenifer Ringer covers the highs and lows of what it’s like to make it to the top in the exclusive, competitive ballet world. From the heart-pounding moments waiting in the wings before a

Overview

A behind-the-curtains look at the rarefied world of classical ballet from a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet

In her charming and self-effacing voice, Jenifer Ringer covers the highs and lows of what it’s like to make it to the top in the exclusive, competitive ballet world. From the heart-pounding moments waiting in the wings before a performance to appearing on Oprah to discuss weight and body image among dancers, Dancing Through It is moving and revelatory.

Raised in South Carolina, Ringer led a typical kid’s life until she sat in on a friend’s ballet class, an experience that would change her life forever. By the age of twelve she was enrolled at the elite Washington School of Ballet and soon moved to the School of American Ballet. At sixteen she was a professional dancer at the New York City Ballet in Manhattan, home of the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

Ringer takes us inside the dancer’s world, detailing a typical day, performance preparation, and the extraordinary pressures that these athletes face. Ringer shares exhilarating stories of starring in Balanchine productions, working with the famous Peter Martins, and of meeting her husband and falling in love at the New York City Ballet. Ringer also talks candidly of Alistair Macauley’s stinging critique of her weight in his 2010 New York Times review of The Nutcracker that ignited a public dialogue about ballet and weight. She unflinchingly describes her personal struggles with eating disorders and body image, and shares how her faith helped her to heal and triumph over these challenges.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Apollinaire Scherr
…[Ringer's] memoir…does not skimp on what she calls "the crazy side of ballet." With quiet eloquence and self-deprecating humor, Ms. Ringer suggests how a profession as idealistic as it is hierarchical and competitive might drive a talented young woman to self-destruct…The joy she communicates about dancing balances the account of suffering. It also illuminates the essential freedom that only performance affords in such a strict idiom as ballet…Ms. Ringer is that rare double threat: a ballerina who can write.
Publishers Weekly
01/06/2014
“The ballet world is a narcissistic world made up of circles of interlocking insecurities,” says New York City Ballet principal Ringer as she looks back on more than two decades in the company. With disarming candor, she relates devastating low points she experienced as a young dancer, invited to join City Ballet at age 16, as well as years of ascension through the hypercritical ballet world. Her story is turbulent, littered with trials and failures, but also with miraculous comebacks, like after she was fired from City Ballet, criticized for her atypical body size in the New York Times, her problems then dissected in the national media. Ringer infuses her narrative with a deep appreciation for the magic of the theater and a moving sense of gratitude toward her success in such an arduous profession. She is candid about her struggle with eating disorders, her rediscovery of the Christian faith, and her realization, with motherhood, that performances need not be the only measure of success and happiness. Fans of the ballet will revel in her intricately detailed, gently humorous descriptions of rehearsals, hair and make-up preparations, and onstage mishaps. When writing about her religion, occasionally Ringer’s words seem rehearsed, but her memoir is an eloquent reminder that moving forward often involves a few falls, missteps, and leaps of faith.(Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Jenifer Ringer’s book is an honest and exhilarating look into the life of a young dancer, with both the excitement of achievement and the desperate anxiety given proper treatment. This is a must-read for anyone entering the dance community, but even more broadly, for any young person passionately following their dream. Jenifer was fortunate to have help in conquering her eating disorder and other demons, and this book may be a help to those wrestling with their own issues. Besides, for those of us who wish we could dance, knowing about it from the inside is a rare privilege.” —Kathy Keller, coauthor of THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE

“As a dancer, Jenifer Ringer offers quintessential musicality, brilliant technique, infectious humor, and a good old dash of gorgeous. As a writer, she offers all of this and more, providing us with a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain and understand the pressures, challenges, and rewards faced by this remarkable individual. Dancing Through It is one of the most candid and insightful books about classical ballet I have ever read. An honest portrait of the rarefied world of the New York City Ballet, Jenny’s writing will make you tear up, roar with laughter, and reflect on the myriad pressures and rewards of being a dancer and an artist. Long before you’ve put this book down, you will want to shout ‘Brava’ once again for this treasured ballerina and gifted author.” —Peter Boal, artistic director, Pacific Northwest Ballet

“One of New York’s most beautiful dancers, Jenifer Ringer brings idealism, humor, and a raw, searing honesty to this poignant memoir. I had a hard time putting the book down, and I teared up several times.”

—Wendy Perron, author of THROUGH THE EYES OF A DANCER, and editor at large, DANCE MAGAZINE

 

Library Journal
10/15/2013
A principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Ringer was put through the ringer a few years back when New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay made scalding comments about her weight when reviewing a performance of The Nutcracker, commenting that she looked as if she had had one sugarplum too many. That launched a nationwide conversation about the fraught issue of dance and weight, which Ringer participated in and addresses here, even as she ranges widely over her life as a dancer.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-11
Faith buoys one dancer's life. At the age of 14, studying dance in Washington, D.C., Ringer was chosen to fill in at the Washington Ballet. The piece was George Balanchine's lyrical, elegant Serenade, and performing, Ringer recalls, felt "like a light taking up residence in my chest." She decided then that she must become a professional ballerina. When her family moved to New York, she was accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, the feeder for the New York City Ballet. There, she undertook a grueling schedule of classes, as well as finishing high school. She was also faced with Balanchine's ideal of the perfect ballerina: "small head, long neck and limbs, slim hips, arched feet, tall and very thin." When Ringer reached puberty, however, her new curves generated anxiety that her body was out of her control. At the same time, she was accepted into the New York City Ballet as an apprentice, which intensified her training and also her feelings of vulnerability about her body and her talent. Dancers, she realized, never admit pain, exhaustion or weakness but instead sacrifice their bodies "for the approval of whoever happened to be watching, whether it be a ballet master or the audience." Desperate to exert control over her life, Ringer became obsessed with her body image and spent the next few years alternating between anorexia and bingeing. Finally, she gained so much weight that ballet master Peter Martins fired her. The author reclaimed her life and her career through a renewal of her religious faith: prayer and a belief in God's watchful care. Married now, with two children, she is a principal ballerina with the NYCB. Told with modesty and humility, Ringer's memoir exposes the unrelenting rigor of a dancer's life and the passion and exhilaration of dance itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670026494
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/20/2014
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Jenifer Ringer’s book is an honest and exhilarating look into the life of a young dancer, with both the excitement of achievement and the desperate anxiety given proper treatment. This is a must-read for anyone entering the dance community, but even more broadly, for any young person passionately following their dream. Jenifer was fortunate to have help in conquering her eating disorder and other demons, and this book may be a help to those wrestling with their own issues. Besides, for those of us who wish we could dance, knowing about it from the inside is a rare privilege.” —Kathy Keller, coauthor of THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE
 
“As a dancer, Jenifer Ringer offers quintessential musicality, brilliant technique, infectious humor, and a good old dash of gorgeous. As a writer, she offers all of this and more, providing us with a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain and understand the pressures, challenges, and rewards faced by this remarkable individual. Dancing Through It is one of the most candid and insightful books about classical ballet I have ever read. An honest portrait of the rarefied world of the New York City Ballet, Jenny’s writing will make you tear up, roar with laughter, and reflect on the myriad pressures and rewards of being a dancer and an artist. Long before you’ve put this book down, you will want to shout ‘Brava’ once again for this treasured ballerina and gifted author.” —Peter Boal, artistic director, Pacific Northwest Ballet

“One of New York’s most beautiful dancers, Jenifer Ringer brings idealism, humor, and a raw, searing honesty to this poignant memoir. I had a hard time putting the book down, and I teared up several times.”
—Wendy Perron, author of THROUGH THE EYES OF A DANCER, and editor at large, DANCE MAGAZINE

 

Meet the Author

Jenifer Ringer was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, retiring in 2014. Before joining NYCB as an apprentice in 1989, she studied at the School of American Ballet. Ringer has a BA in English from Fordham University and is a recipient of the Dance Magazine Award and the Jerome Robbins Award. She is married to former NYCB principal dancer James Fayette. They live in Los Angeles, California, with their two children.

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Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating look inside the New York City Ballet and the daily lives of the people who dance in it. The author describes her training, the heavy demands on junior dancers, and how,  with the help of prayer and her Christian faith she successfully battled her demons of self doubt and overweight.. Photographs are included. This is a book for young and old dancers, and for those of us who tried our hardest, but succeeded in other professions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too preachy
Fitzysmom More than 1 year ago
Reading a good memoir is like getting a sneak peek into the life of someone you admire. I've never been a dancer myself but I raised a beautiful dancer and watched her go from tiny ballerina to professional dancer. Reading Dancing Through It brought back many memories both happy and frustrating. Jenifer Ringer did a masterful job of letting you see behind all the costumes and sets and into the practice studios and after hours of recovery that make up the real life of a professional dancer. I appreciated the honesty that she used when talking about the sacrifices that were made not only by herself but her family. To become an elite dancer you have to be willing to let it be all consuming and your family invariably is along for the ride. I also appreciated her honesty about how her spiritual life took a back seat because ballet came first. She would be the first to tell you that time was difficult because she forgot Who she was ultimately performing for. Lest you think this is a book that only focuses on the rigors of the profession let me assure you that it is also a beautiful love story. Jenifer and James have a fascinating history together and it was fun to read about it. But this is also a love story between Jenifer and Jesus. And that is the best part of the book for me. If you are a dancer or raising a dancer this is the perfect book to give you insight into what is ahead and a way to be in the performing arts community without losing your faith. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent memoir for anyone interested in ballet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a dancer and I could really relate to many of the things in the book. Especially the part aboout body image. She is right about mirrors. We are surronded by them. Most of the time we look for everything wrong in the mirror, not what is right. I also love how much Jenifer Ringer brings up her faith in the book. I am a Christian and every single dance in every single performance is done for the glory of God. If anyone reading this lives in the Port Saint Lucie area in Florida and needs an awesome dance school to go to I recommend Amazing Grace School of Dance. P.S. I just got my pointe shoes!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!