Ballet Journeys


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Photo Credits: Blaine Truitt Covert

Gavin Larsen

Gavin Larsen is a writer, teacher, and former professional ballet dancer. Born and raised in New York City, Gavin received her professional dance training at the School of American Ballet, the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the New York School of Ballet.

Over the course of her 18-year professional career, she was a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alberta Ballet, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre, dancing prominent roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, James Kudelka, Christopher Wheeldon and Paul Taylor, as well as the major classical works and numerous original contemporary pieces.

Being A Ballerina

In a series of 57 essay-like chapters of Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life brings the reader inside the dancer’s world. Inspiring, revealing, and deeply relatable, these episodes, memories, and musings illustrate the realities of life as a dancer from earliest years through retirement from the stage.

As you journey with Gavin through the arc of her dancing life, you stand next to her at the barre, look out through her eyes as she rehearses an emotional pas de deux, listen to her inner dialogue as she performs an exhilarating ballet— and as an ankle tendon tears in the middle of company class. The reader learns how to sew a pointe shoe and do a partnered pirouette, and will also examine the forces that drive a person to dance and the sometimes tormented relationship between a dancer and her body, her craft, her job, and ultimately, herself.

From the unglamorous grunt work in the ballet trenches to a moment on stage that she thinks may be the apex of her life, Gavin’s story shows that the drama of ballet lies in the countless routine moments that are far from mundane.

This is the true story of all dancers, artists, athletes or any of those whose passion has compelled them forward through seemingly insurmountable challenges towards an elusive, amorphous goal.

Send us YOUR Story!

Have you read "Being A Ballerina"? What resonates the most with you and your own Ballet Journey?

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READ THE BOOK before the "Weekend with Gavin Larsen" Event.

In a series of 57 essay-like chapters, Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life brings the reader inside the dancer’s world.

“A luminous new memoir. . . . Poignant . . . Both a personal account and a universal take on the life of a professional ballet dancer.”

New York Times

“There is power and perfection in this captivating memoir—the power of personal experience and the perfection of writing that carefully captures the life of a dancer. . . . Dancing ‘full out’ means going all out during practice rather than saving energy for the performance. In this memoir Larsen is writing full out, and we are the lucky audience of her performance. Balletomanes, dance students, and aspiring dancers will applaud this absorbing account.”

Library Journal, Starred Review 

“Everyone should dance. Everyone should let their soul sing.”

“Dance is impermanent, which I find to be a tragic blessing.”

“Putting one’s body up for scrutiny every day requires the toughest kind of inner strength.

Performing - with honesty, truth, and selflessness - means relying on that core, that foundational support, to shed ego. It requires knowing that what you dance will be loved by some and not by others. That it’s not about you. Remembering that the animal instinct to dance, the fire inside, never dies.”

Being a Ballerina

The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life

Illustrations by Wayne Rivard

© 2021 Ballet Journeys & Catrina Choate-Heretoiu. Digital Styling by Arts4Hope