In June 2005 Jock Soto, at forty years old, gave his farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. The program, an event of unprecedented ambition, showcased pieces from five legendary choreographers, and it capped one of the most storied careers in ballet history—an ascent that began when Soto was just three years old. After retiring, Soto was determined to embrace a new future, but he found himself obsessed with questions about his past—where had he come from, and where had he been?
Every Step You Take weaves together the diverse strands of Soto’s life: being the half-breed offspring of a Puerto Rican–Navajo couple, the gay son of a fiercely macho man, a naive teenager from the desert running in the sophisticated art world of New York, and a driven artist by day and hard-core party animal by night. Soto recalls his professional relationships with such icons as George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Darci Kistler, Lourdes Lopez, and many others. He shares his love of food throughout the book with recipes to mark the pivotal moments in his story. And he describes the newest chapter in his life: teaching at the renowned School of American Ballet.
Intimate and moving, Every Step You Take shows the honest and inspiring evolution of a remarkable man, a brilliant artist, and a living legend.
Following his mother's death and his 2005 retirement as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Soto probes his past for meaning in order to confront the challenges of inventing a new chapter in his life. At age four, a spellbound Soto saw ballet star Edward Villella on the Ed Sullivan Show and, mimicking Villella's leaps, told his working-class Native American mother and Puerto Rican father that he wanted to be a dancer and they took his request seriously. By five, Soto began his ballet training in Phoenix, Ariz.; at 13 he entered the famed School of American Ballet, in New York City; and at 16 George Balanchine invited him to join the New York City Ballet, where Soto danced until he was 40. As he became a fixture in a hip, glamorous world and embraced his gay sexuality, Soto distanced himself from his father's disapproval of homosexuality and found surrogate parents and mentors in two of NYCB's leading dancers, Peter Martins and Heather Watts. He also had a fruitful professional collaboration with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon that survived their romantic liaison. Although there are patches of awkward, unfocused writing, Soto, now a teacher at SAB, offers inspirational insights into a dancer's creative process. 8 pages of b&w photos.