Body of a Dancer by Renee D'Aoust
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In a memoir Lance Olsen calls “fascinating, horrifying, unfalteringly honest,” award-winning writer Renee E. D’Aoust draws from her experiences as a modern dancer in New York City during the nineties. Trained at the prestigious Martha Graham Center, D’Aoust intertwines accounts of her own and other dancers’ lives with essays on modern dance history. Her luminous prose spotlights this passionate, often brutal world. Scarred, strained, and tough, bearing witness to the discipline demanded by the art form, Body of a Dancer provides a powerful, acidly comic record of what it is to love, and eventually leave, a life centered on dance. Read More
What people are saying
Renée D’Aoust’s captivating memoir beautifully articulates the dreamlike freedom of dance and the inevitable pain that comes to those who pursue perfection with every waking breath. With exquisite description, absolute honesty, and a clear, compelling voice, Body of a Dancer offers an unforgettable account of one artist’s bittersweet journey. A powerful story of art and passion.
–Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire
In this compelling, gracefully written memoir, Renée E. D’Aoust, a former Martha Graham trained dancer-turned-writer gives us a candid, incisive look at the transitory and sometimes transcendent joys, exhilarations and camaraderie, as well as the fierce competitiveness, bouts of insecurity, and determination that mark the pursuit of our most impassioned hopes and dreams. In addition to being a deeply human story, Body of a Dancer is a valuable addition to the existing literature on/about the world of modern dance.
—Michael Steinberg, Founding Editor, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction
Author, Still Pitching, 2003, ForeWord Magazine/Independent Press Memoir of the Year
Fascinating, horrifying, unfalteringly honest, Renée E. D’Aoust’s Body of a Dancer is a remarkably clear-eyed descent into New York’s surreal world of modern dance peopled by the obsessed, dispossessed, sexy, suicidal, brutal, broke, and absurd, where piercing self-doubt and ambition give way to luminous instants of transcendence, and where the body is a site of pain and beauty and discipline and joy, a home you can never fully inhabit and never fully leave.
—Lance Olsen, author of Head in Flames
Renée E. D’Aoust’s writing is sharp and funny, twisting and turning through the mind’s eye like the many dancers she so adroitly conjures. Her sentences thrum with life, propelled by felicities of tone, rhythm and pacing. The woman throws a mean sucker punch.
—Claudia La Rocco
Publication date: December 2011
About the Author
Trained on scholarship as a dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet [/and later at the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, Renée E. D’Aoust performed on proscenium stages and in black box theaters. Now as a writer, she has numerous publications and awards to her credit.