Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself

Chloe Angyal. Bold Type, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-645-03670-8

In this captivating debut, journalist Angyal mounts a thorough examination of classical ballet’s fraught history of racial, sexual, and class bias and the reckoning from within that’s pushing to change it. “If ballet survives,” she writes, “it will be because of the individuals and institutions who are demanding that it do better.” Drawing from interviews with the dancers, teachers, and artistic directors working to do just that, Angyal reveals the systemic inequality propping up a fragile ecosystem that, for over a century, has denied opportunities to Black dancers and those who don’t “look really, really fit.” However, in the past decade, she notes, dancers have been fighting back, filing harassment lawsuits and establishing such trailblazing companies as Ballez, which is “just what it sounds like... lesbians doing ballet.” While in the past, dancers learned “to physically submit, to disregard their feelings,” today—and even more so, Angyal notes, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests—they are speaking out against double standards favoring males, arbitrary rules about weight, and the lack of racial diversity in the industry. Timely and thought-provoking, this book is a must for ballet lovers and anyone interested in the cultural conversation. (May)