By: Ellen Cans
A dancer who competed for a spot at the prestigious New York City Ballet tells all in a new memoir. Georgina Pazcoguin, now 36, who became the first Asian-American female soloist at NYCB, reveals that the company’s then-artistic director, Peter Martins, had told her to lose weight, specifically in her thighs. Though she was still a developing teen then, she took on a diet allowing for just 720 calories per day. It was followed by a six –month period of binge eating and purging, and rigorous swimming added on to her demanding dance sessions. “It wasn’t sustainable,” Pazcoguin told The Post. “I was a growing body. I picture my younger self and just want to give her a hug.”
In her memoir, “Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina,” (Henry Holt and Co.), to be released Aug 3, Pazcoguin tells of how she came upon the realization of how dangerous her diet was. As per the NY Post, she was at the pool, and saw an emaciated woman who looked to be in her 50s. In that woman she saw her future self, if she didn’t change her ways. “She was suffering . My heart broke for her but it also broke for me. She was a wake-up call,” writes Pazcoguin.
That was just one topic she discusses in the book, describing the cutthroat world of dance. The daughter of an ER surgeon and a housewife, Pazcoguin admits to nights filled with booze together with fellow dancers at an Upper West Side dive bar and a few hours of sleep followed by 10 a.m. classes. “A common misconception [about ballerinas] is that we’re all really straitlaced and boring. Absolutely no,” Pazcoguin said. “For as hard as we work, we also really enjoy a good time.” She also exposes a male colleague, Amar Ramasar, who, Pazcoguin writes, would casually tweak her nipples and whisper “you look fine today”. Ramasar has denied the allegation.
Pazcoguin also makes several difficult admittances. She tells of an affair she had with a married male dancer, which ended up being exposed in the tabloids. Pazcoguin also says she secretly had liposuction on her thighs. “It’s not something I am proud of now,” she said. “I was asked to do something absurd [lose weight], so the only thing that made sense was an absurd solution.”
To stand up for her heritage, she and fellow Asian dancer Phil Chan launched a diversity initiative called “Final Bow for Yellow Face,” which advocates against stereotypical depictions of Asians in the ballet.