From public relations executive Vaccarino (PR For People, 2009) comes a cross between primer and personal memoir on brand-building and business acumen, built on the artistic principles and practice of ballet.
Self-described as “[m]y not-so-secret life as an adult dancer and how it impacts my life and business,” Vaccarino’s book is a gentle, lyrical pas de deux between author and reader, with specific “steps” such as “Positioning,” “Balance” and “Fall and Recovery” as chapter headings and core principles. Vaccarino slips between childhood memories of her grandmother’s stairs in Yonkers, N.Y., where she took her first steps and gained a child’s insight into discipline and achievement, and her adult world of ballet and business. Her earliest memories are of a passion for dancing; “As a toddler, I danced so enthusiastically, my parents did not want to take me out in public,” and later on, “I danced to the sheer musicality in my own head.” Glimpses of her life’s journey, family secrets and sadness, marriage and motherhood are hung on a trajectory of drawing ever closer to dance and a daily commitment to its pursuit. Throughout the work, tenets of personal ascent (“Our greatest moments of courage are found when we choose to rise higher”) are interspersed with tiny jewels of wisdom, but the connections with and transitions to business and branding are few and far between. Vaccarino’s voice is clear and impassioned on the struggles and rewards of ballet’s principles and discipline, but the application to real-world brand and business skill is slightly out-of-step. Filled with juicy quotes from well-known experts ranging from dance mavens to Willa Cather and Peter Drucker, this book is one woman’s discovery of self-empowerment through dance, heavily weighted toward dance rather than business and with a strong undercurrent of spirituality: “The practice of ballet makes me feel as though I am reaching for an ideal that is close to God.” A sweet meal of practical basics in moving toward consistency and accomplishment at the barre of life, though the connection to business could be more fully established.