Everything is NOT beautiful at the ballet.... This is a no-holds barred look at the dark side of ballet. If you thought "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" was horrifying, this book is twice as shocking. Parents need to read this book in order to see what kind of life is in store for their child pursuing a career in dance. Ballet's stringent requirements for female dancers demand a breastless, hipless, ultra-thin body, which causes most dancers to become bulimic or anorexic. Gordon devotes an entire chapter to eating disorders rampant at ballet schools and in companies; it is shocking to note that many schools have weekly "weigh-in's", which only adds to the dancers' anguish if their weight goes up. Coupled with the physical demands of ballet, undernourished dancers are highly prone to injury and illness. Former dancers that Gordon interviewed are so crippled from injuries they can barely walk. The sacrifices to become a professional ballet dancer are enormous for both dancer and parents. Apart from principals, professional dancers make very little money, with no benefits or security after they've retired. The lifespan of a dancer is brief; many are already washed up and finished by their late twenties. Gordon admires the tenacity and dedication of the ballet dancers, but deplores their working conditions and the appalling demands ballet requires on their bodies. Gordon talks about the invisible partner, that of the ballet mother and how these women give up a normal life to give total support to the dancing child. She writes about the bitter rivalries between ballet mothers, which only increases their isolation and loneliness; it's not surprising these women become totally absorbed and obssessed with their children's success in dancing. With only a limited number of slots available in ballet companies, there is fierce competitiveness amongst students at the ballet academies, which is encouraged by the teachers. Movies like "Center Stage" and "The Turning Point" only scratch the surface of what life is really like as a ballet student or professional dancer; this books paints a more realistic portrait. Gordon interviewed hundreds of dancers for this book; however, the ballet world is such a closed world, most did not allow her to use their actual names, for fear that their comments would jeopardize their careers in dance. It is astonishing to discover how much power these ballet schools, teachers and choreographers have over their students; life in the studio causes dancers to have tunnel vision and renders them totally unprepared to cope in the real world once their all-too-short careers have ended. Although this book is out of print, do what you can to get a copy through amazon.com's services. You'll think twice before encouraging your child to become a dancer.