Dancing Through It
My Journey in the Ballet
By Jenifer Ringer
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670026494, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
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A behind-the-curtains look at the rarefied world of classical ballet from a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet
In her charming and self-effacing voice, Jenifer Ringer covers the highs and lows of what it’s like to make it to the top in the exclusive, competitive ballet world. From the heart-pounding moments waiting in the wings before a performance to appearing on Oprah to discuss weight and body image among dancers, Dancing Through It is moving and revelatory.
Raised in South Carolina, Ringer led a typical kid’s life 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 the School of American Ballet. At sixteen she was a professional dancer at the New York City Ballet in Manhattan, home of the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
Ringer takes us inside the dancer’s world, detailing a typical day, performance preparation, and the extraordinary pressures that these athletes face. Ringer shares exhilarating stories of starring in Balanchine productions, working with the famous Peter Martins, and of meeting her husband and falling in love at the New York City Ballet. Ringer also talks candidly of Alistair Macauley’s stinging critique of her weight in his 2010 New York Times review of The Nutcracker that ignited a public dialogue about ballet and weight. She unflinchingly describes her personal struggles with eating disorders and body image, and shares how her faith helped her to heal and triumph over these challenges.
Jenifer Ringer was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, retiring in 2014. Before joining NYCB as an apprentice in 1989, she studied at the School of American Ballet. Ringer has a BA in English from Fordham University and is a recipient of the Dance Magazine Award and the Jerome Robbins Award. She is married to former NYCB principal dancer James Fayette. They live in Los Angeles, California, with their two children.
“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 an artist. Long before you’ve put this book down, you will want to shout ‘Brava’ once again for this treasured ballerina and gifted author.” —Peter Boal, artistic director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
“One of New York’s most beautiful dancers, Jenifer Ringer brings idealism, humor, and a raw, searing honesty to this poignant memoir. I had a hard time putting the book down, and I teared up several times.” —Wendy Perron, author of THROUGH THE EYES OF A DANCER, and editor at large, DANCE MAGAZINE