Swan Dive (Hardcover, 2021, Henry Holt and Co.) No rating

Pazcoguin's memoir covers the two+ decades of her career (which started when she was a child) at the New York City Ballet. The gothic humour was welcome and familiar around the tougher memories of relentless emotional, sexist, and racist abuse. During the more triumphant parts of the book (and there are some really great ones), your heart soars at Pazcoguin's words. Righteous!

Organized in a series of non-chronological vignettes (some very out of order), there is definitely a method to it, though it requires a bit of work to keep names and places and years straight. It pays off at the end: maybe you're even a little emotionally winded, but in the best of ways.

While the book offers a tantalizing and brutal window into the amazingly dysfunctional, abusive, and hurt/ing art form that is ballet, the book is careful (and wise) to anchor it to Pazcoguin's perspectives and memories. While there are villains (namely Peter Martins, the disgraced former head of NYCB) the book is firm in placing most of the responsibility at the feet of ballet's culture, audience, and gatekeepers. The issue is systemic; while individual actors can cause atrocious amounts of damage, the solutions have to go beyond holding them personally to account.

Highly entertaining, intensely relatable (despite my never doing anything remotely resembling being a professional dancer at NYCB), and a very hopeful read that I'll definitely revisit again.