... incisive and unsparing ... Some chapters recount sadly familiar scandals but readers familiar with these stories won’t really learn anything new. And a late chapter on the pandemic, featuring two choreographers and four dancers, feels a bit tacked on ... While not every point raised is as irrefutable as it is presented, Angyal provides enough compelling evidence and makes enough strong arguments that the book is an important read for ballet lovers and an essential part of any conversation moving forward. Some of Angyal’s prescriptions, such as cross-gender casting and delaying the age that girls go on pointe, would fundamentally alter the art form; others, such as radically expanding diversity and inclusivity — from corps members to corporate suits — should be indisputable in 2021 ... Angyal has written movingly elsewhere on the beauty of ballet and her hope that it will endure, but she eschews any easy encomiums here in favor of tough love. It is a plea not that ballet’s beauty will endure, but that its many harms will be consigned to the past.
Angyal’s reporting is thorough and compelling, and some of the stories she relates are heartbreaking. A filmography and a bibliography will aid those who wish to delve deeper ... Required reading for anyone who loves ballet and cares about its future.
Drawing on interviews with insiders who include artistic directors and principal dancers, the author is particularly insightful about companies’ 'doublespeak”'on issues like thinness ... Angyal slights some of the broader social and economic forces that have contributed to ballet’s problems, such as declining U.S. audiences for high culture and the role government regulators might play if discrimination or unfair labor practices are involved. However, she ends with clear, well-reasoned recommendations that schools and companies anywhere could adopt—a list that, in itself, might be the spark many need to make overdue changes ... A vigorously reported critique of common policies and practices in the ballet world.