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Quick, before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Lifeby Janet Carlson
Synopses & Reviews
“I’ve been dancing steadily since that Valentine’s Day. I have taken countless lessons and classes, passed a professional certification exam, done several shows and a competition—yes, dressed in those outrageous gowns and false eyelashes—and then gone back home to the kids, the soccer, the housework, and to work the next day. It hasn’t been easy to make room in the schedule for my passion, but I have done it, because I’m certain now that it is necessary for life. This new period is rich—as rich in some ways as having my two children because it has been a kind of birth—but it has also been extraordinarily painful thanks to the self-examination that dancing has provoked in me. And so, because of dance, I can say, unequivocally and gratefully, that I am alive at last.”
– From Quick, Before the Music Stops
“There is no time for regret in dance. You have only now, this moment, for your performance, your glorious movement. Whatever you’re going to do, do it now, quick, before the music stops.” – Janet Carlson
In her twenties, Janet Carlson was a successful competitive ballroom dancer, but she abandoned dancing to raise a family and pursue a more conventional profession as an editor for a luxury lifestyle magazine. Twenty years later, she seemed to have it all: two beautiful daughters, a glamorous job, and a handsome, talented husband. Despite all of her successes, she felt a terrible void - her marriage was deeply troubled, and she was somehow withdrawn in the very midst of her own life and the lives of her children. Then, one Valentine’s Day, her husband gave her ballroom dancing lessons as a gift, and everything changed. She discovered the joy, passion, and confidence she hadn’t realized had gone missing for so long.
Over time, Janet discovers that ballroom dancing also contains the secrets to life and love: the give-and-take of dance, two bodies in rhythm and harmony, mirrors the reciprocity of human relationships. Total trust between partners is as vital on the dance floor as it is within a marriage. And yet, both partners - in dance and in life - must stand on their own two feet. The unadulterated joy Janet feels as she intuitively moves to the music speaks to the kind of absolute, whole-body happiness we were born to have. On the dance floor, she finds resolve in the waltz, self-confidence in the tango, and passion in nearly everything. Embracing dance once more allows her to let go of a marriage that was completely out of sync; put more heart and emotion into her work; find more time to truly be with her children; and ultimately rejoice in her intrinsic balance and poise.
Told with precision, grace, and painstaking honesty, Quick, Before the Music Stops is the tale of one woman’s midlife renewal through dance, and how her newfound empowerment transcends the dance floor and becomes immediate and relevant in every aspect of her life. It shows us how to recognize and celebrate both our strengths and our flaws, reignite passion for the everyday, and how to step from the periphery into the light and surrender to the music.
Based on a popular piece she wrote for "O, The Oprah Magazine," this book is Carlson's exuberant story of how dance helped her find her footing as a woman.
Janet Carlson is the Beauty & Health Director at Town & Country magazine. She has written articles for O the Oprah Magazine, Elle, Redbook, and Departures, among other publications, and she blogs for the Huffington Post Living Section. She studied ballet and jazz as a child and began ballroom dancing during her college years at Yale University. After graduating, she competed around the country for seven years, and then stopped to pursue her magazine career and start a family. She returned to the dance studio twenty years later and is now certified by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and has co-taught a social dance program called Dance for Joy in the Caribbean. Carlson lives in Westchester County, New York with her two daughters. Visit her website at www.janetcarlson.net.
Table of Contents
A cold day for marriage, February, 2001 — Back on the boards, forgetting the groceries — Delirium in the arms of other men — Fun and punishment in competition — Grown woman crying — The golden rule of partnership dancing — Trying too hard — Demons on my dance card — Spring fever is lonely business — Why can a woman be more like a man — Paradoxes, ambiguity and separate bedrooms — No-fault foxtrot — Trust and betrayal in partnership — You're not the boss of me — I can take care of myself, that's the problem — Perfect timing — Back to the present — Good fences make good dancers — Getting rid of the clutter — Will the real Janet please stand up? — Leaving Providence — Change partners, dance another dance — The good soldier stands down.
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