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Publisher's Summary

A reckoning with one of our most beloved art forms, whose past and present are shaped by gender, racial, and class inequities - and a look inside the fight for its future

Every day, in dance studios all across America, legions of little children line up at the barre to take ballet class. This time in the studio shapes their lives, instilling lessons about gender, power, bodies, and their place in the world both in and outside of dance. 

In Turning Pointe, journalist Chloe Angyal captures the intense love for ballet that so many dancers feel, while also grappling with its devastating shortcomings: the power imbalance of an art form performed mostly by women, but dominated by men; the impossible standards of beauty and thinness; and the racism that keeps so many people of color out of ballet. As the rigid traditions of ballet grow increasingly out of step with the modern world, a new generation of dancers is confronting these issues head on, in the studio and on stage. For ballet to survive the 21st century and forge a path into a more socially just future, this reckoning is essential.

©2021 Chloe Angyal (P)2021 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

“A vigorously reported critique of common policies and practices in the ballet world.” (Kirkus Reviews)  

Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet from Itself is a painstaking, and often painful, assessment of the troubling racialized, gendered, and classed lessons of classical ballet. Angyal’s sharp analysis invites us to wonder how ballet might expand if it did not require broken toes, torn ligaments, starving dancers, or pink tights. This is the book for all of us who loved ballet but found it did not love us back.” (Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and cohost of System Check)

“This is the book I desperately needed as a teenage ballerina, when I mistakenly thought there was something wrong with me rather than ballet’s culture. Having read it, I want to buy copies for every aspiring dancer, as well as the gatekeepers who most need to read it. Angyal reports with urgency and precision about what draws young dancers to ballet, and how it needs to change to keep them there. Turning Pointe is a long-overdue reckoning for an art form that excludes and injures its dancers as much as it dazzles them.” (Ellen O’Connell Whittet, author of What You Become in Flight)  

What listeners say about Turning Pointe

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  • laurie
  • 02-09-2021

I knew ballet was messed up...

I've been dancing ballet for 32 years and I knew that ballet was a messed up system but I was not aware it was this messed up. I don't have the hips or the feet and now after reading this book I'm okay with that. I've been striving to get back on pointe, and now that is gone. I will never dance in pointe shoes again. I knew it was sexist and racist but again not at the level that was discussed in this book. at the end of the book it asks if the author would be willing to let their children dance ballet. My answer is a resounding "No." Not until ballet gets its sh!t together. A wonderful read and I will read it again.

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  • Daryl James
  • 28-11-2021

Interesting but idealistic

A lot of the moral conditions raised against racism, sexism, and binary gender conformity as imperatives for ballet to survive sound like whining that won't make a difference if the final outcome doesn't produce a more popular and commercially viable artform and product. I totally agree that Ballet must remain socially relevant if it is to remain a popular artform and not just as staple of middle-upper class white ladyhood, but I don't see Ballet ever fully abandoning it's central position to bougoise white ladyhood, which makes all of these aspirations to make Ballet politically correct ring hollow.

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  • J. Gibbs
  • 08-11-2021

imporrant read

This book is especially important for parents of young dancers to read. It tells the darker side of the history of ballet and paints a bright future along with specific steps emerging dancers and artists can take to encourage a healthy and more vibrant evolution of ballet!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mariana P
  • 17-07-2021

Mind-blowing and eye-opening

As a ballet dancer, I can say that this book needs to be heard by everybody. Dancers and non-dancers have helped to perpetuate injustices and racism in the ballet co8and it needs to be stopped altogether.

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