On November 7, David Hallberg's highly anticipated memoir, A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back, will be available in bookstores. (It's currently available for pre-order from Simon & Schuster and various other retailers.) Published by Touchstone Books, the autobiography details Hallberg's arduous recovery from a series of career-threatening injuries, and his triumphant return to the stage. Marina Harss spoke with the American Ballet Theatre principal about how his experience has changed him, his future with the Bolshoi and his desire to someday direct a company.
Courtesy Simon & Schuster
Why did you decide to write a memoir?
The initial seed was planted by New York Times dance critic Roslyn Sulcas. This was way before the Bolshoi. She just said you're traveling a lot now. You know, maybe just start to jot some things down about your experiences. So I took her advice, and then Simon & Schuster called and expressed interest in a book, and I dove in headfirst.
The focus of the book must have changed a lot after the injury.
Absolutely, and to be honest, the book had no backbone before the injury. It was "dance memoir 101." Not to say I didn't have a story to tell. But the meat of the book and for me, the heart, and soul, and the gut, is the nightmare that I went through with the injury.
As I was reading the book it felt almost as if you were a survivor of some kind of trauma.
It was emotionally traumatic. It was physically traumatic. It was mentally traumatic. Everything unraveled, and everything went wrong.
As the new year approaches, we here at Pointe took a moment to look back on some of the ballet stories we loved from 2016. Here are just a few of our (many) favorites!
“In Defense of Patience” (December/January): Julie Kent’s heartfelt essay on embracing the unknown is the perfect anecdote to today’s high-pressure, social media-driven world. Kent gently reminds us about what’s really important as an artist: “The work is still the work, and at the end of the day, the work is what you have left, and is both your labor and your reward.” —Amy Brandt, editor in chief
"Dateline Havana” (April/May): I love Quinn Wharton's photos for this feature, especially those of the National Ballet of Cuba's dancers rehearsing and taking class in the company's old studios. The story offered readers an exclusive look at Cuba's rich ballet tradition and how it may be becoming less insular. —Madeline Schrock, managing editor
“Her Time” (December/January): Ballet fans have long considered Stella Abrera a principal dancer and now that she has the official title, she's never looked better. It was our honor to put such a paragon of grace and determination on the cover of our biggest issue of the year. —Nicole Loeffler Gladstone, assistant editor
"Story Ballets for the 21st Century" (April/May): Hanna Rubin's thoughtful piece explored the unique challenges of choreographing a narrative for today's audiences, and some of the exciting things artists are doing—whether working with classic literature or creating completely original works. —Suzannah Friscia, assistant editor
“The Quest for Confidence” (August/September): Writer Gavin Larsen unpacked this complicated subject and explained that, just like technique, building and believing in your own confidence is something that takes practice.” —Madeline Schrock, managing editor
“Taking the Lead” (June/July): This story talked to professional dancers who understand that you don't need to stand in the spotlight to be a leader. They're great role models for ballet students, who often worry that being a principal is the only way to matter in a company setting.” —Nicole Loeffler Gladstone, assistant editor
"Finding Balance" (December/January): I loved following Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Courtney Henry through a typical day. I was inspired by the way she makes time to take care of herself, as well as her attitude in the studio: “If you don't believe in your awesomeness, who will? Ballet can be good at tearing you down, so it's a personal responsibility to lift yourself up.” —Suzannah Friscia, assistant editor
“Semi-Pro Limbo” (April/May): With so few professional jobs available, many young dancers are moving from one second company to the next—and feel the clock ticking on their career. Writer Candice Thompson took a frank look at the anxious situation many entry level dancers face, and offers advice for those wondering how long to stick it out. —Amy Brandt, editor in chief
What were some of your favorite Pointe stories? Tell us in the comments section!