- University Press of Florida
Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life
- Gavin Larsen
- University Press of Florida
- Performing Arts > Dance - Classical & Ballet
Inspiring, revealing, and deeply relatable, Being a Ballerina is a firsthand look at the realities of life as a professional ballet dancer. Through episodes from her own career, Gavin Larsen describes the forces that drive a person to study dance; the daily balance that dancers navigate between hardship and joy; and the dancer's continual quest to discover who they are as a person and as an artist.
Starting with her arrival as a young beginner at a class too advanced for her, Larsen tells how the embarrassing mistake ended up helping her learn quickly and advance rapidly. In other stories of her early teachers, training, and auditions, she explains how she gradually came to understand and achieve what she and her body were capable of.
Larsen then re-creates scenes from her experiences in dance companies, from unglamorous roles to exhilarating performances. Working as a ballerina was shocking and scary at first, she says, recalling unexpected injuries, leaps of faith, and her constant struggle to operate at the level she wanted--but full of enormously rewarding moments. Larsen also reflects candidly on her difficult decision to retire at age 35.
An ideal read for aspiring dancers, Larsen's memoir will also delight experienced dance professionals and fascinate anyone who wonders what it takes to live a life dedicated to the perfection of the art form.
Gavin Larsen is a writer, teacher, and former professional ballet dancer. Born and raised in New York City, Gavin received her professional dance training at the School of American Ballet, the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the New York School of Ballet. Over the course of her 18-year professional career, she was a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alberta Ballet, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre, dancing prominent roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, James Kudelka, Christopher Wheeldon and Paul Taylor, as well as the major classical works and numerous original contemporary pieces.
Gavin retired from full-time performing in 2010 to focus on teaching, coaching and writing about dance, while continuing to pursue unique artistic opportunities. She has taught and coached widely across the country and been a guest teacher for schools in Japan and Canada. In 2010, Gavin was a founding member of Incoroporamento, a collaborative trio combining dance, poetry, and music, producing several performances to critical acclaim.
Gavin has been a regular contributor for Pointe, Dance Teacher, and Dance Spirit magazines, and her essay “Why I Dance” was published in Dance magazine in 2009. Her writing has appeared in Dance/USA’s online journal In the Green Room, Oregon ArtsWatch, the Dancing Times and Artslandia as well as the literary journals the Threepenny Review, Page & Spine, Sunlight Press, KYSO Flash, and The Maine Review. In 2015 she was honored with a fellowship to the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM, to pursue her work as a writer. Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life is her first book. She lives in Asheville, NC.
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