A Year of Dancing Dangerously: One Woman's Journey from Beginner to Winner
by Lydia Raurell


Overlook Duckworth, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59020-127-5.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 01/08/2009

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Active Life; Nonfiction: Body Language

Lydia Raurell begins her story with a verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born,...and a time to dance."

Raurell's struggle to achieve her lifelong dream to dance demonstrates that it is never too late, even though many difficulties postponed her progress toward that goal.

When Raurell was nine, her dance instructor told her mother that her ankles would never hold up to the rigors of ballet. Lessons at the beginning of her second marriage ended when she realized that her family took precedence. Twenty years later, when the time was just right, she saw an ad that said, "Walk in Monday, dance out Friday." She walked in and her dance instructor, Angelo Caruso, introduced her to competitive ballroom dancing, where she waltzes, foxtrots, tangos, and slides with us on her way to realizing her dream.

Weaving her experiences with definitions of dance styles and explanations of competitive dance terms, Lydia describes her second year of dancing, in which she discovers that she may be a finalist for Top Female Student. Propelled by this possibility, Lydia and Angelo dance dangerously through six regions, dancing in twenty-two competitions in forty-five days. At the last competition before the final ball, Lydia comes down with the flu, and complications from the antibiotics sideline her with an inflamed Achilles tendon. Has she lost the title, "Top Female Student"?

This inspirational and educational book, beautifully written by a dancer who is also a writer, will motivate anyone who reads it. The story is accompanied by beautiful color photographs that swirl and dance the reader through the chapters. Anyone who has a dream will be encouraged by Lydia's effort, determination, and courage.


Lydia Raurell is a magazine editor, a mom, and an amateur ballroom dancer. She won the DanceSport Series Top Female Student Award in 2005, came in second in 2006, and regained first place in 2007, out of over 4500 women in the U.S. She lives in Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband.

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