Attitude!: Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey School

Fishman, Katharine Davis

Fishman follows eight high school dancers studying at The Ailey School, trying to discern what exactly talent is and what makes it go. She doesn't separately profile each student. Instead it's one narrative with themes (like eating disorders and weight, sexuality, race and friendship) explored by chapter. Although you can tell Fishman cares about her subjects, she manages not to get too sucked in. I like her researched but relatively casual approach.

On the research side, she discovers that children whose parents model "active leisure and hard work, and expect the same of their children." I was taken by the phrase "active leisure" because it's something my family was no good at. If I'm at rest, I mostly like to stay home and read. Is that what stopped me from being an elite gymnast or theater artist? I do think there are factors beside innate ability that affect one's chances to make the most of their talent. There's also what talent matches one's times, one's inner resources, etc. I'm not saying I really had a shot as a gymnast or director, but I do wonder why. Is it because we didn't go camping when I was a kid? Or was it really just because I was afraid to let go of the high bar? I wonder how much birth order impacts one's success in various fields. Fishman didn't get into that, but I bet it's a thing.

Nov 24 2013