by Catherine L. Tully
I’m fascinated by the lives of dancers. Even though I was one, I can never seem to get past the fact that each of us has such a distinctly different path–and a totally unique perspective on what it is like to live this life.
Because of that, I was excited to read Every Step You Take, a memoir written by Jock Soto (with Leslie Marshall). After all, this is a man that I grew up watching in the ballet world. Soto was a principal dancer with NYCB when he retired at the age of 40, and this book begins with the end of his career on stage. A peek inside the thoughts and fears that swirl around one’s head when the final performance looms, I thought it was a great opener.
Where, I thought, will this book go from here?
Interestingly, Soto weaves the story of his life and his heritage together with his career in ballet. We see the influence his family and background had on him, and he is free with his inner thoughts, which was quite refreshing. It is obvious that he spent time thinking through how the person he is inside influenced the person he was on stage–and the man he has become on the other side of his life as a performer. This intimate look at his thoughts and feelings becomes the centerpiece of what draws the reader in to this memoir–an an opinion shared by my friend and colleague, Henrik Lamark in his review of Soto’s book on Tights and Tiaras.
There was a kind of unexpected twist in the book in that Soto includes a variety of recipes throughout. This was such a fun thing to do, and it added another dimension to the book that I really enjoyed. I just might have to try his “Grilled Skirt Steak with Arugula” or the “Paradise Valley Potato Salad”.
I don’t like to give too much away when writing a review of a book, so I won’t spoil the details. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the memoir, the photos–and the recipes, and think it would make good reading for both ballet dancers and those interested in dance alike. Soto takes us on a rich trip through his career, whirls us back in time to see what shaped him and let’s us tag along with him as he processes those things that helped him find his way once he retired.
It’s a fun ride.