Raising the Barre by Lauren Kessler
Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker

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...provides a useful vest-pocket history of ballet...ably captures the abundant physical punishment, including difficult experiences with yoga, Pilates, boxing, Gyrotonics, water jogging, and hours at the barre and on the floor. Ultimately, Kessler succeeded and was cast in “a named part,” an outcome readers will applaud.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.
 

About Lauren Kessler

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Lauren Kessler is the author of six works of narrative nonfiction, including My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence, Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Dancing with Rose (published in paperback as Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s), Washington Post bestseller Clever Girl and Los Angeles Times bestseller The Happy Bottom Riding Club. She directs the graduate program in multimedia narrative journalism at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, OR.
 
Published November 24, 2015 by Da Capo Press. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on Oct 06 2015

...provides a useful vest-pocket history of ballet...ably captures the abundant physical punishment, including difficult experiences with yoga, Pilates, boxing, Gyrotonics, water jogging, and hours at the barre and on the floor. Ultimately, Kessler succeeded and was cast in “a named part,” an outcome readers will applaud.

Read Full Review of Raising the Barre: Big Dreams... | See more reviews from Kirkus

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