Ballet dancer/teacher/businesswoman tells the inside story in a captivating memoir
Chasing Castles: Nineteen Years Living & Teaching Ballet in Italy, by Barbara File Marangon. Ogham Books International. 286 pages. Trade Paperback $15.95.
This marvelous story of nearly two decades of perseverance is filled with colorful vignettes and valuable life lessons. The author takes her readers through a highly creative period of her life running from her early thirties through her early fifties. As a young woman, Ms. Marangon (hereafter Barbara), had prepared for a career in ballet. We meet her during a time when the ex-New Yorker is dancing and training others in Los Angeles.
But something is luring her in another geographic and cultural direction. She has fond memories of friendships made in Europe, of refinement of her skills there, and of European performances in which she participated. Ready to live in a kind of exile, and hardly speaking any Italian, she is determined to live and work there. Another motive is the need to withdraw from her doomed, painful relationship with her father.
Venice is the first stop.
What she didn’t realize was that she would be a victim of a deeply-rooted European prejudice against foreigners. This affected where she could live, what amenities she could obtain, work opportunities, and many other areas of life. Her Venice experience of feeling like an outsider was offset someone by the romance that ended in a marriage to her first husband and her gradual, hard-won successes in developing a career as a ballet teacher. Unfortunately, she discovered that her husband was a very childish person. Their unhealthy relationship lingered on for a long time.
More opportunities arose outside of Venice – in small towns in which ballet education was well established and in which she was able to make her mark even while dealing with the resentment of others about making room for an outsider to flourish. Barbara made at least two of those small towns her home.
What is success as a ballet teacher? How does one manage to turn craft and teaching skills into a successful business? Most of the book details Barbara’s struggle to answer these questions. . . .
The full review, along with an interview, was originally published in the September-October 2019 issue of Ft. Myers Magazine. To read the full review, click here: Chasing Castles
For her earlier Detour on an Elephant, click here: Detour