Growing up, Alice Robb dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. But by age fifteen, she had to face the reality that she would never meet the impossibly high standards of the hyper-competitive ballet world. After she quit, she tried to avoid ballet--only to realize, years later, that she was still haunted by the lessons she had absorbed in the mirror-lined studios of Lincoln Center, and that they had served her well in the wider world.
Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, the book weaves her early experiences as a dancer with those of her contemporaries, and of famous ballerinas ... Don’t Think Dear is powered by a fundamental love of the art form while exposing the toxic culture that runs through it. Robb may look fondly back at her ballet years but she can’t deny the intrinsic weirdness of 21st-century women willingly submitting themselves to a life of physical and psychological torment, conceived of and often enforced by men, for a picture-book fantasy of femininity.
a critical yet personal examination of classical ballet — a performing art highly dependent on the talent of women — filtered through the lens of 21st-century feminism. Robb’s writing style is scattershot at times, as she jumps from one idea to another and then back again, but she brings a welcome academic rigour to the subject, clearly born of deeply held emotions ... Throughout the book Robb quotes from dozens of studies and scholarly articles, using facts and figures to bolster her assertions ... Robb interrogates a ballerina’s life, illustrating her thesis with portraits of famous ballerinas whose pursuit of stardom came at a price.