"Don't expect just tulle and toe shoes. In this fascinating insider's tale, NYCB dancer Pazcoguin reveals her world. . . . A striking debut." —People
Award-winning New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, aka the Rogue Ballerina, gives readers a backstage tour of the real world of elite ballet—the gritty, hilarious, sometimes shocking truth you don’t see from the orchestra circle.
In this love letter to the art of dance and the sport that has been her livelihood, NYCB’s first Asian American female soloist Georgina Pazcoguin lays bare her unfiltered story of leaving small-town Pennsylvania for New York City and training amid the unique demands of being a hybrid professional athlete/artist, all before finishing high school. She pitches us into the fascinating, whirling shoes of dancers in one of the most revered ballet companies in the world with an unapologetic sense of humor about the cutthroat, survival-of-the-fittest mentality at NYCB. Some swan dives are literal: even in the ballet, there are plenty of face-plants, backstage fights, late-night parties, and raucous company bonding sessions.
Rocked by scandal in the wake of the #MeToo movement, NYCB sits at an inflection point, inching toward progress in a strictly traditional culture, and Pazcoguin doesn’t shy away from ballet’s dark side. She continues to be one of the few dancers openly speaking up against the sexual harassment, mental abuse, and racism that in the past went unrecognized or was tacitly accepted as par for the course—all of which she has painfully experienced firsthand.
Tying together Pazcoguin’s fight for equality in the ballet with her infectious and deeply moving passion for her craft, Swan Dive is a page-turning, one-of-a-kind account that guarantees you'll never view a ballerina or a ballet the same way again.
Pazcoguin, New York City Ballet's first Asian American soloist, reveals the grimy underbelly of elite stagecraft and the extreme passions that fuel it in this rollicking debut. She affectionately recounts her 1980s childhood in Pennsylvania, where she started dancing at age four. ("I didn't know what I was doing, but... I wanted to move this way all the time," she recounts.) At age 13, Pazcoguin attended the School of American Ballet in New York, where she thrived under the grueling regimen but felt battered by racism and body shaming, including one instance in which the artistic director said "you don't really fit in from here... to there," pointing to her thighs. She also exposes the truth about ballet's sequins and tulle: costumes go unwashed for years, and the glittering snow in The Nutcracker (which she calls the "NUTBUSTER" because it's such a grind) is swept up and dumped right back onto dancers' heads the next night. Pazcoguin's humorous asides entertain, though at times they can undermine the abuse she endured. ("I've felt the pain... I've even farted onstage and survived.") While the juicy details of beautiful people behaving badly are beguiling, it's Pazcoguin's unsparing criticism of the industry that begs an encore. This is potent stuff.
Fascinating and Riveting
I couldn’t put this book down! I love behind the scenes books, so it was perfect for me! Georgina confronts so many issues that ballet dancers face.