Life Stories #101: David Hallberg

Life Stories: David Hallberg

I met David Hallberg at the midtown offices of the American Ballet Theater, where they’d set aside a conference room for us to talk about his new memoir, A Body of Work. It’s about his relentless quest for perfection, from his earliest days as a ballet student in Arizona to his role as a principal dancer at ABT (and as the first American to hold a position of comparative stature at the Bolshoi’s dance company). But it’s also about realizing that, even though he thought he was pushing himself to the limit, he was really holding himself back—and about how a career-threatening injury drove him not just into physical therapy but into a complete overhaul of his emotional approach to his craft.

As I was reading A Body of Work, I started thinking Jim Bouton’s classic baseball memoir, Ball Four. Both books are by young men who’ve dedicated themselves to their field but find themselves coming face-to-face with the prospect of no longer being able to do the thing they love, far sooner than they’d ever anticipated. Fortunately, Hallberg was able to make the comeback, and as this episode goes online he’s approaching the first anniversary of his return to the stage.

Listen to Life Stories #101: David Hallberg (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (If you’re already an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

photo: Bjorn Iooss

18 December 2017 | life stories |