Dancing Through It
My Journey in the BalletBook - 2014
Jenifer Ringer, as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, knows what it's really like to make it to the top in the rarefied world of classical ballet. In her charming and honest memoir, Ringer goes behind the scenes at one of the most renowned ballet companies in the world and shares the story of her own journey from student to star, a path that included losing her job during her struggle with an eating disorder and handling a media storm after her weight was commented on by a New York Times critic. Witty, insightful, and modest, Ringer is the perfect guide to the world behind the curtain.
Raised in South Carolina, Ringer grew up knowing nothing about dance until she sat in on a friend's ballet class, an experience that would change her life forever. By the age of twelve she was enrolled at the elite Washington School of Ballet and soon moved to Manhattan to attend the School of American Ballet. At sixteen she became a professional dancer at the New York City Ballet, home of the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
Ringer takes us inside the dancer's world, detailing the day-to-day demands, the performance preparation, and the extraordinary athletic challenges dancers face. She shows us, step by step, how she approaches the premiere of a new piece or assumes roles in the storied ballets of the repertory, giving us an exhilarating dancer's-eye view of these magnificent productions and allowing a whole new appreciation of what we see from the audience.
Dancing Through It is also a coming-of-age story of a teenager, suddenly a professional on her own in Manhattan, struggling with weight and body image and trying to keep her faith a central part of her life. Ringer discusses the ways in which she matured, both on and off the stage, as she built and then rebuilt her career, and shares the story of her courtship by fellow dancer James Fayette and the joys of starting a family. Finally, we hear her candid account of Alastair Macauley's stinging critique of her appearance in the New York Times . Her response ignited a public dialogue about ballet and weight that put Ringer in a new spotlight - but one in which she shined as brilliantly as when on stage.
Ringer's story is a revelatory insider's account of life on the stage that many of us only dream of, and a hopeful and inspiring memoir about triumph over the body issues that torment all too many women and men. Her love for her craft, personal strength, and faith have supported her as she has danced through it all, against the odds.
'Jenifer Ringer's book is an honest and exhilarating look into the life of a young dancer, with both the excitement of achievement and the desperate anxiety given proper treatment. This is a must-read for anyone entering the dance community, but even more broadly, for any young person passionately following their dream. Jenifer was fortunate to have help in conquering her eating disorder and other demons, and this book may be a help to those wrestling with their own issues. Besides, for those of us who wish we could dance, knowing about it from the inside is a rare privilege.' Kathy Keller, coauthor of The Meaning of Marriage
'As a dancer, Jenifer Ringer offers quintessential musicality, brilliant technique, infectious humor, and a good old dash of gorgeous. As a writer, she offers all of this and more, providing us with a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain and understand the pressures, challenges, and rewards faced by this remarkable individual. Dancing Through It is one of the most candid and insightful books about classical ballet I have ever read. An honest portrait of the rarefied world of the New York City Ballet, Jenny's writing will make you tear up, roar with laughter, and reflect on the myriad pressures and rewards of being a dancer and a