Features

Book – Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina – by Georgina Pazcoguin

Details from the book cover of <I>Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina</I>.<br />© Henry Holt and Company. (Click image for full version)
Details from the book cover of Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina.
© Henry Holt and Company. (Click image for full version)

Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina
By Georgina Pazcoguin

Henry Holt and Company
ISBN 9781250244307, hardcover, 255 pages, July 2021 (US) / October 2021 (UK), US $27.99
Publisher’s page

Georgina Pazcoguin.<br />© Matt Karas. (Click image for larger version)
Georgina Pazcoguin.
© Matt Karas. (Click image for larger version)
Balletomane bookshelves groan with confessional and scathing memoir–exposés by New York City Ballet ballerinas, from Gelsey Kirkland’s Dancing on My Grave to Jenifer Ringer’s Dancing Through It. But the sorority’s newest member may be its most confessional and scathing yet – NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin’s frank, fuck-filled, adults-only Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina. By fuck-filled I don’t mean sex, although there is some, but literally the liberal use of four-letter words – Pazcoguin does not mince her vocabulary, which has the dual effect of making you feel like she’s dishing the latest dirt over drinks (and there are plenty of cocktails in her tale too) and being a tad tedious.

Pazcoguin takes few prisoners, and she doesn’t hold back when it comes to former NYCB ballet-master-in-chief Peter Martins, who retired from the company in 2018 following an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse. (Martins denied all the allegations.) She details a misogynistic boys’-club mentality, racism and severe fat-shaming – to the extent that she got liposuction to make herself more likely to get a promotion to soloist, the rank she now holds – under Martins’s watch. “It’s like Peter could snap his fingers, and you’re instantly transformed from a vessel of promise to a piece of festering garbage,” she writes. She stood her ground against him, but rebuilding her dignity and self-worth remains an ongoing process. Pazcoguin is a tough fucking cookie.
 

Georgina Pazcoguin as Hippolyta in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.© Paul Kolnik. (Click image for larger version)
From Marina Harss May 2019 review of NYCB: Georgina Pazcoguin as Hippolyta in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
© Paul Kolnik. (Click image for larger version)

Along with backstage shenanigans, wild times on tour, all-night benders with company comrades, and some hilariously unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions, she describes several of her swan dives – the onstage trips, falls, and ass-over-teakettle face plants that every dancer dreads. And of course, no ballet book would be complete without a litany of complaints about dancing The Nutcracker (yes, we know it’s tiring and boring, but show me the job that doesn’t entail it’s portion of mind-numbing drudgery and a requirement to generate revenue). Pazcoguin eventually found personal and artistic salvation performing in Broadway musicals, and those passages are among the book’s most compelling.
 

Book cover of <I>Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina</I>.<br />© Henry Holt and Company. (Click image for full version)
Book cover of Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina.
© Henry Holt and Company. (Click image for full version)

Swan Dive is aimed at a mass-market audience – the prelude reassures readers “You’ve never been to City Ballet…or any ballet? NO PROBLEM, I’ve got you” – so ballet insiders may long for more detail. But as a story of one woman’s grit, drive and determination to grab life by the balls, it claims a spot on the shelf.
 
 

About the author

Claudia Bauer

Claudia Bauer is a freelance writer and lifelong bunhead in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Critical Dance and SF/Arts Monthly. She tweets every so often at @speakingofdance.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

DanceTabs Contributors

DanceTabs Tweets