Two things about Dancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer:
Thing 1) it starts in the wrong place
Thing 2) it ends in the wrong place
Ok, regarding Thing 1)
The book starts at the beginning.
It shouldn’t though, it should start at the moment the internet exploded with Ringer’s name.
Instead of Jenny Ringer age 7, it should open in the morningtime kitchen of Jenifer Ringer: professional, on her game, top of her game even, easing into the day while her daughter and husband run back and forth laughing through the apartment. It should open with Ringer holding her phone, scanning reviews, scrolling down to find the words,
…one sugarplum too many…
And then cut to Title Sequence, driving piano-beat of Coldplay’s Clocks jumping you out of your chair then dropping you into flashback where we meet Jenny Ringer, age 7, and fill in the story that leads back to that moment and those words.
I mean, that’s how the movie version would go.
Or maybe instead of the review, the movie would start on the set of The Today Show with Jenifer being asked, live on television, if she feels that she is owed an apology from Alastair MaCaulay.
Boom! Title Sequence! Clocks piano!
I have no idea if there’s a movie in the works, or if they will get the rights to Clocks.
What I do know is that this was a hard book for me to get into, and that surprised and frustrated me. I mean, it’s the autobiography of a NYCB dancer. I love that stuff. Oooooh, let me count the ways: Once A Dancer…, A Winter Season, Dancing On My Grave, this is a super-compelling genre within the already interesting genre of Real People In Ballet.
I think part of my difficulty getting into the book was I’d never heard of Jenifer Ringer before all the outcry over that review,
(I’d never heard of Alastair MaCaulay either for that matter. I don’t read professional critiques of dance performances. Pro reviews are boring.)
So it jarred me when I began reading, expecting to approach the story from the perspective of discovering the woman behind the public outcry, but instead the book is written almost as if that quote and the erruption of fame/infamy that followed was just another chapter, (the 9th Chapter to be specific. 191 pages deep) not the impetus for the book. No, I don’t think One Sugarplum Too Many is the most important thing that has happened to Ringer, defintely not. but I do think it’s what set the book in motion.
Which brings me around to Thing 2).
I really really wish the book ended with Ringer and MaCaulay meeting up for a drink.
But it can’t end that way, because that never happened. Which is a shame because within that perfect storm of his flame-baity turn-of-phrase and her history of struggle and recovery, they brought ballet into national news.
Not just ballet either: disordered eating, mental health, gender issues, the responsibility of critic to artist, company to employee, so many things.
I mean, she was on Oprah FFS! What percentage of Oprah’s viewing audience had heard about the New York City Ballet before that day? Hopefully most but surely not all of them, right?
What percentage of Oprah’s viewers started on a path to getting help that day? For an eating disorder or an obsessive behavior or any particular thing?
They reached the world that day, togther, in a way.
In case you missed the Today’s Show episode, by the way, her answer was no. No apology owed. Because that lady is top shelf. Which is why I love the idea of the two of them getting together and just saying wow, that was terrible for both of us, cheers friend, let’s never ever do that again.
Book is Dancing Through It, my journey in the ballet, by Jenifer Ringer-Fayette, copyright 2014, published by Viking Penguin Group