Review: Every Step You Take: A Memoir by Jock Soto

06 Oct

Every Step You Take: A MemoirMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Jock Soto has a very interesting history, and I liked the glimpse into the life of this gay ballet dancer of Navajo/Puerto Rican heritage.

Summary via Goodreads:

ock Soto, one of the greatest ballet dancers of our time chronicles the unique circumstances of his extraordinary career, his life among other legends of dance, and his background as a half-Navajo, half-Puerto Rican gay man struggling to succeed in the straight white world of the arts. Regarded as the greatest ballet dancer since Baryshnikov, Soto has achieved a level of success and fame enjoyed by few. Ballet aficionados will be familiar with Soto from the award-winning PBS documentary, Water Flowing Together, which chronicled his life and career. Now, lifelong dance adherents and causal fans alike will have the chance to hear the captivating story of one of the world’s greatest living performers.

Jock Soto actually lived in the Phoenix area around the same time I did, and he lived a similarly middle-class life at the time. There the similarities between our paths ends.

Even more than his talent (which I hear about indirectly in the book, but I don’t really see, since it is hard to get the true nature of dance through the written word), I am awed by his dedication to dance. He knows from a very young age exactly what he wants to do, and is willing to spend all his time and energy on it at an age when most children have a much more limited attention span. Even as an adult, I long for a purpose so consuming, a path that is so clear.

He makes no effort to hide his youthful shortsightedness and selfishness that led to him being on his own in New York at age 14. Still, he was savvy enough to survive this, as well as get through a rather intense young love affair with an older man without family support to back him up.

The best part for me was the glimpses into the world of the ballet, the inner working of his company. I liked seeing the aspects from insight as to how a dance was choreographed (and I wish there was much more detail here– it truly was only a glance), seeing the personal relationships and the politics that went on.

I had two issues with the book, neither of which were enough to keep me from enjoying my reading, but they were enough to keep me from loving Every Step You Take.

First the voice of the narration didn’t match the person being portrayed. Part of it is that he’s looking back, so it is the voice of a 40+ year old telling the story of a teen and young man, but even after he was grown up, it still didn’t seem to have the passion that was being described.

The other problem is that the book really felt like just a glimpse into the life. Ballets, lovers, family relationships, complex living situations all were quickly mentioned, but I never really saw it or felt it. I was interested, but not involved.

Still, when the worst I can say is that I wish there was more to it, I can’t really complain.

I received this book for review from Harper Collins. Thank you for this opportunity!

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in books, reviews


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