"...a spirited rebuke to the idea of sleep as a mere parting with consciousness. In exploring the pleasures and uses of dreams, [Alice Robb] seeks to persuade us that sleep is not just the “off” to waking’s “on” but another realm of being, a second consciousness, rich in adventure and wisdom."

 –The New Yorker


Alice Robb has written for Vanity Fair, Vogue and The Atlantic, among other publications. Her first book, Why We Dream, was recommended by The New Yorker, Vogue, Elle and The New York Times and was translated into fifteen foreign languages. Her second book, Don't Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet has been called "a beautiful, difficult, and compelling memoir" (Vanity Fair); "a nuanced, intimate mash-up of memoir, reportage and cultural criticism" (The Guardian) and "remarkable for its nuance and insight…a book about love, even if that love is ultimately unrequited” (Times Literary Supplement).

Speech topics

Why We Dream

We spend about five or six years of our lives dreaming. Yet most of us remember only a couple of dreams a week, allowing valuable ideas to vanish into the night. Artists and innovators including Beethoven, Salvador Dalí, Paul McCartney, Dmitri Mendeleev and Larry Page considered dreams a crucial part of the creative process, and new research shows that dreams are a breeding ground for new ideas--a time for the brain to experiment in a wider network of associations. Drawing on cutting-edge science as well as real-world stories, Alice will reveal the simple steps to improving dream recall and harnessing the power of dreams for problem-solving and creativity.

Don't Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet

Growing up, Alice Robb dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. But by age fifteen, she had to face the reality that she would never meet the standards of the hypercompetitive ballet world. After she quit, she tried to avoid ballet—only to realize, years later, that she was still haunted by the lessons she had absorbed in the mirror-lined studios of Lincoln Center: discipline, stoicism, silence, submission.

Profound, nuanced, and passionately researched, Robb presents an excavation of her adolescent years as a dancer, and an exploration of how those days informed her life for years to come (based on her book). As she grapples with the pressure she faced as a student at the School of American Ballet, she investigates the fates of her former classmates as well. From sweet and innocent Emily, whose body was deemed thin enough only when she was too ill to eat, to precocious and talented Meiying, who was thrilled to be cast as the young star of the Nutcracker but dismayed to see Asians stereotyped onstage, and Lily, who won the carrot they had all been chasing—an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet—only to spend her first season dancing eight shows a week on a broken foot.

Theirs are stories of heartbreak and resilience, of reinvention and regret. Along the way, Robb weaves in the myths of famous ballet personalities past and present, from the groundbreaking Misty Copeland, who rose from poverty to become an icon of American ballet, to the blind diva Alicia Alonso, who used the heat of the spotlights and the vibrations of the music to navigate space onstage.

Much more than a talk for dance-lovers and bunheads, by examining the psyche of a dancer, Alice Robb grapples with the contradictions and challenges of being a woman today.


Don't Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet

Combining the meticulous reporting of She Said with the intimate storytelling of Three Women, an incisive exploration of ballet’s role in the modern world, told through the experience of the author and her classmates at the most elite ballet school in the country: the School of American Ballet.

A fresh, revelatory foray into the new science of dreams—how they work, what they’re for, and how we can reap the benefits of our own nocturnal life.

Request booking info