PUTTING MY HEELS DOWN

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Tatelbaum writes that she started ballet lessons in 1986, when she was 8 years old. She was never able to accomplish smooth landings after her pliés, however, because of her short Achilles tendons. This brought her additional heartbreak when her teacher, referred to only as Miss Lorraine, noted that she didn’t have the body to be a dancer. Still, the author remained determined to become the best performer she could be. Luckily for her, Lorraine hired Clea, a modern-dance teacher who exposed the 11-year-old girl to a new world of motion. When Tatelbaum turned 14, she expanded her knowledge further by taking classes at the Alvin Ailey school. Eventually, she graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, started a dance company, and became a successful choreographer. Things went well for her until she stopped getting callbacks, and she realized that she was stuck in a rut; she also felt unfulfilled in her career as a Pilates instructor. The memoir is split into three parts: The first describes the state that she found herself in when she was ready to give up, the second focuses on her background, and the third describes her later healing. Throughout, readers will easily sympathize with the exhaustion and constant pains that the author felt in her bones (“Ever since senior year at Tisch, my left hip had been snapping when I kicked my leg above ninety degrees”) and how she was still willing to go through it all to pursue her aspirations. The reader also gets a vivid glimpse into her emotional exhaustion when she describes her clients as ATMs, explicitly details her anger and resentment, and shows her despair when she asks her therapist, “How do I get out of here? Help me.” Tatelbaum never shies away from painful moments on her journey, and this adds a depth to her narrative that will keep readers invested.

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