Book Review: Swan Dive by Georgina Pazcoguin


Title: Swan Dive

By: Georgina Pazcoguin

Genre: Memoir

Pages: 229

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Rating: ★★★★☆


Summary from Goodreads:

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.

Swan Dive pitches us into the fascinating, dizzying lives of the dancers in one of the most revered ballet companies in the world. Georgina Pazcoguin, the New York City Ballet’s first Asian American soloist, tells her unfiltered story of leaving small-town Pennsylvania for New York City and training as a professional athlete, miles away from her parents, before finishing high school.

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.

But along with her desire for justice and a deep respect for her craft, Pazcoguin has an unapologetic sense of humor about the cutthroat, literally survival-of-the-fittest culture of ballet. She relishes telling us about the torture (but economic necessity) that is the holiday “Nutbuster” season and holds nothing back in relaying the face-plants, backstage fights, and raucous company bonding sessions. You'll never see a ballerina, or a ballet, the same way again.


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We should never forget that ballerinas are people too, with feelings and ambitions.

I love reading about other ballerinas and what makes them tick. The incredible stories on how they made it to where they are, but most importantly the stories behind what makes them special.

Its not often we hear of a black swan, a dancer who dances to the beat of their own drum, but Georgina doesn't follow the pack, no matter if that is what is expected of her. She strives for her own dreams and takes initiative to get where she wants to go.

As an exballerina myself, I envy her drive and ability to still dance. My carrier was ended too quickly, but Georgina pushed through injury and overcame. I loved this wild child of the dance world and can't wait to see where the world takes her next.

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