Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life by Gavin Larsen is now Available


Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life by Gavin Larsen

Author, Gavin Larsen

Gavin Larsen in Tolstoy’s Waltz and Duo Concertant

Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life by Gavin Larsen is now Available through Booksellers Everywhere

This is the best book I’ve ever read about becoming and being a dancer. Every word rings true.”

— Robert Gottlieb, Editor and Dance Critic

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, April 27, 2021 / — Gavin Larsen‘s memoir, Being a Ballerina is much more than a memoir. It is a guide, a map for the dance student, the professional, and the aficionado. It is the experienced professional telling the student what it is going to take to achieve the perfection required of the art. It is also the professional quietly asking the student if they are prepared to give everything to achieve that perfection. Gavin’s words are honest and inspiring. She has written of her journey with warmth, passion, grace, intelligence, and humor. Being a Ballerina reveals sacrifices, the drive for perfection, the resilient power of the dancer’s body, and the rewards of personal achievement within the world of dance.

Dancers and non-dancers alike will find deep emotional resonance and relatability as they join Gavin in reliving the episodes, reflections, and memories of a dancer’s life. Everyone who has felt that mysterious inner force compelling them through difficult times of uncertainty will feel deeply connected to this book.

“Larsen relates in great detail and remarkable prose how she became a ballerina. With her, we enter a school. With her, we enter a theater. With her, we listen in the wings and rush out onto the stage, the destination of her desire, the music her guide. We read about the difficult training that must be mastered and the fragility of the body during the process of learning technique. We learn about the joy of performance. I loved reading it.”
—Allegra Kent, former principal dancer, New York City Ballet

“Gentle, genuine, and honest, Larsen shares her experiences generously, offering a compelling glimpse into a ballerina’s world—one that beautifully illustrates not only what it takes to become a professional dancer but what it means to be a ballerina.”
—Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, author of So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?

“I laughed out loud, cringed, and teared up relating to the joys and trials that a career in ballet requires and that Larsen so vividly conveys. Her wit and humanity bring behind-the-scenes experiences to life with the candor of a good friend along with the invaluable insights of a real ballerina. If you want to be a ballerina or want to know what it takes to be one, this is a must-read.”
—Elysia Dawn, arts consultant and former dancer

Inspiring, revealing, and deeply relatable, Being a Ballerina is a firsthand look at the realities of life as a professional ballet dancer. Through episodes from her own career, Gavin Larsen describes the forces that drive a person to study dance; the daily balance that dancers navigate between hardship and joy; and the dancer’s continual quest to discover who they are as a person and as an artist.

Starting with her arrival as a young beginner at a class too advanced for her, Larsen tells how the embarrassing mistake ended up helping her learn quickly and advance rapidly. In other stories of her early teachers, training, and auditions, she explains how she gradually came to understand and achieve what she and her body were capable of.

Larsen then re-creates scenes from her experiences in dance companies, from unglamorous roles to exhilarating performances. Working as a ballerina was shocking and scary at first, she says, recalling unexpected injuries, leaps of faith, and her constant struggle to operate at the level she wanted—but full of enormously rewarding moments. Larsen also reflects candidly on her difficult decision to retire at age 35.

An ideal read for aspiring dancers, Larsen’s memoir will also delight experienced dance professionals and fascinate anyone who wonders what it takes to live a life dedicated to the perfection of the art form.

Gavin Larsen was a professional ballet dancer for 18 years before retiring in 2010. A principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theatre, she also danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alberta Ballet, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and as a guest with Ballet Victoria. She has written for Pointe, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, Dancing Times, Oregon ArtsWatch, Dance/USA’s From the Green Room, the Maine Review, and The Threepenny Review, among others. She writes and teaches in Asheville, North Carolina.

Requests for interviews, review copies of Being a Ballerina, and additional information should be directed to David Ivester at

David Ivester
Author Guide
+1 941-321-8570
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