With a promising career in classical ballet ahead of her, Ellen O’Connell Whittet was devastated when a misstep in rehearsal caused a career-ending injury. Ballet was the love of her life. She lived for her moments under the glare of the stage-lights–gliding through the air, pretending however fleetingly to effortlessly defy gravity.
Yet with a debilitating injury forcing her to reconsider her future, she also began to reconsider what she had taken for granted in her past. Beneath every perfect arabesque was a foot, disfigured by pointe shoes, stuffed–taped and bleeding–into a pink, silk slipper. Behind her ballerina’s body was a young girl starving herself into a fragile collection of limbs. Within her love of ballet was a hatred of herself for struggling to achieve the perfection it demanded of her.
In this raw and redemptive debut memoir, Ellen O’Connell Whittet explores the silent suffering of the ballerina–and finds it emblematic of the violence that women quietly shoulder every day. For O’Connell Whittet, letting go of one meant confronting the other–only then was it possible to truly take flight.