cover image Don’t Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet

Don’t Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet

Alice Robb. Mariner, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-358-65333-2

Journalist Robb (Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey) recounts her tenure as a student at the School of American Ballet in this insightful memoir. Robb always dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina and was offered a spot at the school, which is noted for its low admission rate, in the early 2000s, but a few years later she was expelled due to her lack of progress. Robb interweaves her story with those of four classmates, who all eventually left ballet. The narrative excels in detailing the physical demands of ballet, such as the preparation for a jump from a deep plié, the overly familiar touches of a pas de deux partner or dance master, and the suppressed pain that simmers en pointe. But when Robb poses meaty questions—such as why New York City Ballet artistic director and SAB cofounder George Balanchine’s protégés remained loyal to him despite his history of paternalism, or if her idea of femininity changed after leaving ballet—there are no clear-cut answers. Even so, Robb provides searing glimpses of life behind the curtain, and captures her appreciation for ballet’s “hyperfeminine trappings.” This will deepen readers’ understanding of the insular world of ballet. Agent: Bridget Matzie, Aevitas Creative. (Feb.)