Lauren Kessler is a writer, narrative journalist and author of nine works of literary nonfiction. Her newest book is Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts and My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker.
From Kessler's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write, “The Nutcracker is my cure for middle-aged doldrums.” What about The Nutcracker especially appeals to you, and how did it pull you out of those doldrums?--Marshal Zeringue
A: The Nutcracker has special emotional resonance for me. It was the first ballet my mother took me to at age 5 -- and we went to Lincoln Center for the Balanchine production every year until I left for college. I have taken my own daughter to the ballet every holiday season since she was 5.
But also, from a practical point of view, it is really the only ballet I could ever hope to perform in, as much of Act I involves dances performed not en pointe. I was not ready to dance on my toes. Well, I was ready, but I knew that my feet weren't.
The book is about my quest to dance with on stage with a professional ballet company, but it is more broadly about shaking it up, mid-life, when you don't have to, when circumstances don't force you to take on a big challenge.
The book is about actively pursuing challenges, about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and...[read on]