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Ballet in Books (and Movies)

April 28, 2022

When I was growing up, I wasn’t exposed to much professional dancing. Then I went to music school. Any music school worth its salt will have a ballet corps. When I was doing my undergrad work, I made friends with several of the ballerinas studying there as well. I started going to see their performances and fell in love with ballet and modern dance. To this day, I always pick up the latest ballet books as they come out. These are the ones I think you should read too.

I wasn’t sure what this one was about when I picked it up off the Lucky Day table. But as I mentioned, I always check out new ballet books, so I was excited to see what this offered. About 10 pages into the book, I fell in love. Basic premise: fictional main character Delphine returns to the Paris Opera Ballet, her old dance company, to choreograph a new work. Her two friends still dance with the company, although they are approaching the mandatory retirement age of 42. My favorite part of this book was how the author – who seriously studied dance herself – really captures what it’s like to perform well. I teared up a few times, because even though I don’t dance (like at all), it still resonated with me as a musician. Not a fan of the ending, but I loved everything else about this one.

This is the true story of how little Georgina from Altoona, PA made it as a professional ballerina with the New York City Ballet. This feat is even more impressive when we realize that Georgina is half-Filipino and doesn’t have the blond hair and blue eyes that has been traditionally revered in classical ballet. I’ve never seen her dance, but from her stories, it sounds like Georgina has had a very rewarding career – even if overcoming her differences was challenging. My favorite part of the book was the stories she told between chapters that each featured a large fall – on stage as a child, and under a taxi as an adult. She made biting the big one while dancing sound so entertaining. Highly recommend this one. 

I really enjoyed this book – especially how it was written. A story told by the author, but not in first person. She never says, “I did this” or “I danced,” it was always “a twelve year old girl” or “the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Plus the chapters are short: touching on a subject, but not beating it to death. I would have liked her to tell a little more why she didn’t stay with the New York City Ballet, but unlike the others who studied there and stayed there to dance, she traveled to Canada and the west coast to different companies. Highly enjoyable and highly recommend.

Happy dancing...

:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.

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