“The Turnout”

Ballet — The good, the bad, the creepy, and “The Nutcracker”

“The Turnout” is, of course, about ballet; readers are plunged into that fairy tale world with dancers working and instructors patiently training. These are the stars of the future, but no matter their eventual careers, all these children will always be dancers, and they will always remember “Nutcracker.” Of course a privileged few dance, dance, dance, and then teach dance, like the Durant family. For Dara and Marie, life had always been about ballet; it was their whole childhood. Theirs is a family that makes its own rules, its own atmosphere, and ultimately its own demise.  

Dara and Marie are now dancers who teach dance and teach it well, as their mother had, at The Durant School of Dance. Dara’s husband Charlie, once their mother’s prize student, runs all the business operations from the back office. They all are the same, but different. However, there are always people who ruin everything. Family secrets are the very worst kind, and yet they have been keeping them their whole lives.  It is always the three of them, until it is not. The routine is rigid and precise, until it is turmoil.   Everything works, until it does not. The fire, the construction, the expansion, and most of all, the contractor Derek; everything is wrong.

“The Turnout” is not just a collection of the bad things that people do; it is a plummet into the pandemonium that is ballet — position, rehearsals, position correction, performances, correct position, perfection, and shoes, always the shoes.  I received a review copy of “The Turnout” from Megan Abbott, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, and Penguin Random House. “The Nutcracker” — little girls love it; the magical experience, the dream of being Clara, the familiar photos; it is an experience unlike any other. This is not my favorite book by Megan Abbot, but it certainly paints an unusual, believable, and creepy picture.