Saturday, September 23, 2023

Five books to awaken your inner ballerina

Charley Burlock writes for Oprah Daily about authors, writing, and reading. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review, Agni, and on the Apple News Today podcast. She is currently completing an MFA in creative nonfiction at NYU and working on an book about the intersection of grief, landscape, and urban design.

At Oprah Daily she tagged five ballet-themed "books that range from a steamy page-turner to a raw memoir to a searing investigation." One title on the list:
First Position, by Melanie Hamrick

If you thought Black Swan was steamy, you better hold on to your leg warmers: This sensually detailed debut novel is Fifty Shades of Grey en pointe. On the first page of her diary, Sylvie Carter wrote out a series of rules for herself: “Be good. be very good. be beyond reproach”; “drink rarely… Do no drugs”; “Do not have sex with anyone.” Five years into her career at the North American Ballet, she discovers the old rules and says, “Jesus. I’ve broken every single one.” Sylvie spent the first 18 years of her life in dogged pursuit of ballet’s rigid perfection, attending all the right schools, eating all the right foods, and abstaining from all sensual pleasures. Five years later, her closest friend is now her fiercest rival, and…let’s just say Sylvie has learned to use her body for more than just pirouettes. In technicolor flashes between the past and the present, we piece together the scandal that, as a friend inelegantly describes it, “ruin[ed] your career and damn[ed] you for all time.” But this is just the beginning of Sylvie’s story, and she’s determined to be in control of its ending—until a new dancer joins her company and, once again, her rigid discipline is overcome by her own visceral desire. Is this the start of a further fall from grace or the first crack in an artistic and sexual breakthrough?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue