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, millions of little girls line up at the barre and take ballet class. Their time in the studio shapes their lives, instilling lessons about gender, power, the value of their bodies and minds, 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 male choreographers and ballet masters, the impossible standards of beauty and thinness, and the racism that keeps so many people out of ballet. A new generation of dancers is confronting these issues head on. If ballet is going to survive the 21st century and forge a path into a more socially just future, this reckoning is essential.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

“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
“The best art is not an escape for the audience, but a journey. It uses beauty incisively, and that is what Chloe Angyal’s writing does. In her essential observations about her beloved ballet, she reminds us of the necessity of thinking critically, especially about that which we love the most.”—Jamil Smith, journalist and contributor to Believe Me
“There’s no question: Turning Pointe is a groundbreaking book that stands to shift the nature of ballet as we know it. The depth of reporting is astounding, inspiring, and necessary: Chloe Angyal doesn’t just explore ballet, she examines it, holding up magnifying glasses and mirrors to the inequities and systemic issues that have persisted for too long, the innovation unfolding in studios and on stages, and the shattering of rigid tradition that today’s ballet can’t let stand. With Angyal’s obvious passion for the art form and thoughtful, immersive conversations with sources from across the ballet world at the heart of this book, Turning Pointe is a must-read for any current or former dancer, dance parent, or individual who is interested in a vibrant, inclusive future of a classical art form. Turning Pointe reads like a reckoning—one that can truly change ballet for the better.”—Rainesford Stauffer, author of An Ordinary Age
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