Synopses & Reviews
When I was six, my father nicknamed me Laurisa Kesslova because, he said, all great dancers were Russians, and since I was going to be a great dancer, I needed a Russian name. I aim to reclaim that name.
When Lauren Kessler was twelve, her ballet instructor crushed not just her dreams of being a ballerina but also her youthful self-assurance. Now, many decades and three children later, Kessler embarks on a journey to join a professional company to perform in The Nutcracker. Raising the Barre is more than just one woman's story; it is a story about shaking things up, taking risks and ignoring good sense, and forgetting how old you are and how you're "supposed" to act. It's about testing limits and raising the bar(re) on your own life.
Kessler an author and journalist was enjoying a very active midlife both professionally and personally when she decided to take up ballet again. This thoughtful shake up of her autopilot existence brought about a new attitude toward accepting one’s flaws while embracing fear and change. As a girl she fell in love with The Nutcracker. She abandoned dance lessons after overhearing her famous teacher Andre Elevsky (a former principal with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet) tell her mother that Kessler’s body was “all wrong” but her passion for the show didn’t fade and she went on to see it performed dozens of times. When her husband takes a solo business trip to Paris she seizes the chance to do something for herself and goes on a multicity tour to immerse herself in Nutcrackerland and watch the productions each company offers. Then following a voice that tells her to be bold she vows to dance it this time with her reputable hometown dance group the Eugene Ballet Company. Giving herself six months to get in dancing shape before the start of the company’s new season the very fit Kessler takes up yoga Pilates boxing and Gyrotonics where she is often twice the age of her classmates. As she pushes her exhausted body further from its comfort zone and closer to opening night she inspires readers as she realizes that “you can’t feel the thrill unless you take the risk.” (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
An award-winning author's journey to turn off the comfortable cruise-control of midlife and reclaim the daring of her girlhood by dancing in the world's most popular ballet, The Nutcracker, with a professional company.
About the Author
Lauren Kessler is an award-winning author and immersion reporter. She is the author of seven nonfiction books, including Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-aging
, as well as My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, a Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence
. Her journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine
, Los Angeles Times Magazine
, O, the Oprah Magazine
, Ladies' Home Journal
, Woman's Day
, and Salon. She also directs the graduate program in narrative journalism at the University of Oregon.