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Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker

Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker

by Lauren Kessler


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Like generations of little girls, Lauren Kessler fell in love with ballet the first time she saw The Nutcracker, and from that day, at age five, she dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But when she was twelve, her very famous ballet instructor crushed those dreams -- along with her youthful self-assurance -- and she stepped away from the barre.

Fast forward four decades. Lauren -- suddenly, powerfully, itchingly restless at midlife -- embarks on a "Transcontinental Nutcracker Binge Tour," where attending a string of performances in Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco reignites her love affair with the ballet--and fuels her girlhood dream.

What ensues is not only a story about The Nutcracker itself, but also an inside look at the seemingly romantic -- but oh-so-gritty -- world of ballet, about all that happens away from the audience's eye that precedes the magic on stage. It is a tale told from the perspective of someone who not only loves it, but is also seeking to live it. Lauren's quest to dance The Nutcracker with the Eugene Ballet Company tackles the big issues: fear, angst, risk, resilience, the refusal to "settle in" to midlife, the refusal to become yet another Invisible Woman. It is also a very funny, very real look at what it's like to push yourself further than you ever thought you could go -- and what happens when you get there.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306903274
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,140,884
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lauren Kessler is the author of nine nonfiction books, including Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-aging, as well as My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, a Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence. Her journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Prevention, and Salon. An international speaker and workshop leader, she is the creator of two graduate programs in narrative journalism.

Table of Contents

Prologue xv

1 The Binge 1

2 The Cure 19

3 Cracking the Nut 27

4 Reality Bites 41

5 A Good Talking-To 49

6 The Door Opens 63

7 The Ballerinas 71

8 Prep for the Prep 83

9 Let the Wild Rumpus Begin 95

10 Bull's-Eye 111

11 Perfection 125

12 In the Company 137

13 The Ballet Book Club 151

14 The Uncomfort Zone 167

15 Going Native 181

16 Humble Pie 189

17 Rehearsals 201

18 On the Road 215

19 Road Warriors 227

20 The Life of the Party 241

Acknowledgments 251

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