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Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet [NOOK Book]


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 ...
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Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet

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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 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

New York City Ballet fans know who Jenifer Ringer is. She is the very recently retired NYCB principal dancer who once attracted inflammatory headlines just as this: "Is This Ballerina Really Too Overweight to Play the Super Plum Fairy?" In this revelatory autobiography, Ringer writes candidly about her two decades with the company, including her dismissal and return; the world of ballet; her battles with anorexia and bingeing; the stabilizing power of faith and her eventual marriage to a fellow NYCB dancer. Primed to be the most popular ballet memoir since Gelsey Kirkland's 1986 Dancing on My Grave.

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
“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.)
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698151505
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/20/2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 89,429
  • File size: 15 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Jenifer Ringer

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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 27, 2014

    This is a fascinating look inside the New York City Ballet and t

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014


    I LOVE DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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