Swan Dive

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What to expect

‘Swan Dive is to ballet what Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential was to restaurants, a chance to go behind the serene front of house to the sweaty, foul-mouthed, psychofrenzy backstage.’ Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

Award-winning New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, aka the Rogue Ballerina, gives readers a backstage tour of the real world of elite ballet the gritty, hilarious, sometimes shocking truth you don’t see from the orchestra circle.

In this love letter to the art of dance and the sport that has been her livelihood, NYCB’s first Asian American female soloist Georgina Pazcoguin lays bare her unfiltered story of leaving small-town Pennsylvania for New York City and training amid the unique demands of being a hybrid professional athlete/artist, all before finishing high school. She pitches us into the fascinating, whirling shoes of dancers in one of the most revered ballet companies in the world with an unapologetic sense of humour about the cutthroat, survival-of-the-fittest mentality at NYCB. Some swan dives are literal: even in the ballet, there are plenty of face-plants, backstage fights, late-night parties, and raucous company bonding sessions.

Rocked by scandal in the wake of the #MeToo movement, NYCB sits at an inflection point, inching toward progress in a strictly traditional culture, and Pazcoguin doesn’t shy away from ballet’s dark side. She continues to be one of the few dancers openly speaking up against the sexual harassment, mental abuse, and racism that in the past went unrecognized or was tacitly accepted as par for the course all of which she has painfully experienced firsthand.

Tying together Pazcoguin’s fight for equality in the ballet with her infectious and deeply moving passion for her craft, Swan Dive is a page-turning, one-of-a-kind account that guarantees you’ll never view a ballerina or a ballet the same way again.

Critics Review

  • Swan Dive is to ballet what Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential was to restaurants, a chance to go behind the serene front of house to the sweaty, foul-mouthed, psychofrenzy backstage.

    Sunday Times
  • Swan Dive is a sharp plunge into the reality of ballet in all its perfectionist genius and rigour, and all its abuses and sadism. What makes Pazcoguin’s message so haunting is that exploitation and violation are seen as the price that female dancers have to pay to perform some of the greatest dances known to humanity.

    Observer
  • Her resilience is written on every page, often in capitals, with wit and rage displayed in equal measure.

    Sunday Times Books of the Year
  • A funny, poignant and shocking read . . . [Pazcoguin] punctures, with enormous glee, the stereotype of the ballet dancer as an elegant, ethereal being.

    Guardian
  • Explosive . . . This is far from misery memoir. There’s a passionate joy in the dancing itself, and the lively pages are filled with colloquialisms

    Daily Telegraph
  • A blisteringly honest tale of overcoming hurdles — racism, misogyny, sexual harassment and psychological abuse — to reach the top of a fiendishly cut-throat industry.

    Sunday Times

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