Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina

Memoirs by performing artists who have achieved a level of renown in their field can often be rhapsodizing nostalgia jobs. As Georgina Pazcoguin might put it: oh, honey, that is so not Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina. With her aggressively entertaining memoir, Pazcoguin, a proudly foulmouthed New York City Ballet soloist since 2013, has set out to take the shine off her profession's glittery image: "Onstage, we're graceful and as ethereal as mist, but once the pointe shoes and tutus come off, it's a different story."

Raised in Altoona, Pa., by an Italian American mom and a Filipino dad, Pazcoguin found her calling at an early age: "I'd always pick ballet over a John Hughes movie." In Swan Dive, she traces her journey to NYCB, spotlighting career highs (she has appeared in ballets and Broadway shows including West Side Story Suite, Cats and On the Town) and low points, such as getting a "fat talk" from NYCB artistic director Peter Martins. (Martins retired in 2018 amid a whirl of misconduct allegations; Pazcoguin's tussles with him speckle her narrative.)

She's generous with endearingly disarming accounts of her on- and offstage belly flops, each of which gets its own Swan Dive section, fueled by her plucky peevishness. That spirited petulance is also out in force when Pazcoguin encounters injustice, as after she realizes that dancers of color like her are being relegated to the ballet company's "B cast." She has since cofounded Final Bow for Yellowface, which is devoted to convincing ballet companies worldwide to purge their dances of Asian stereotypes. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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