I love ballet. It's so beautiful and graceful and something about it just makes me happy. It has since I was a very little girl. I tell the story all the time, I wanted to join ballet when I was little. But my dad, being a single father, had absolutely no clue whatsoever, and instead he enrolled me (along with my older brother) into a boxing club instead. It was short-lived, soon after, David and I both joined the swimming team.
But my heart yearned for ballet all the same. But all these years later, instead of learning ballet I just watch it. On stage, in films ... I've read very few books involving ballet though, which is a little strange. Is there not many YA books involving ballet?
I was in a bit of a slump the other week, I was feeling down about a few different things and I really needed a pick me up. None of the books I was reading was doing it for me, so I went with two of my favourite comfort watches: Save the Last Dance and Center Stage.
Save the Last Dance - You know what? I'm such a sucker for teen films. I think it's probably just the teen experience that I love so much, and it should really be no surprise after all the teen books I read. This film is slightly cheesy, but I just love all of the dancing. And the love interest has a great smile. And while it's not explicit, I also just really love that they actually have sex. Usually it's just some chaste kissing but not in Save the Last Dance! That aside, the reason this film is a comfort watch, is because I love the ballet. The main character gives up her dreams of being a prima ballerina after her mother dies and she goes to live with her clueless father. There she takes up hiphop and merges ballet and hiphop in order to impress the judges at her Julliard audition. It's fun to watch.
Center Stage - Oh I know, this film is utterly cheesy. I realise that when I watch it, but honestly? I just can't take my eyes away from it. It's all the ballet! I think there could be so much more character development in it... and so much more could be improved. But it's the dancing that I like to watch. Especially the end sequence, with the Michael Jackson song! Oh my god, I love it. Let me find a clip of it from YouTube. Worth watching, I tell you. With the motorcycle and the fun costume changes. If that doesn't put a huge smile on your face, I don't know what will. *happy sigh*
I think I know where my love of ballet began. I can't be certain, but I think reading Maggie Adams, Dancer by Karen Strickler Dean is the book that hooked me. It was about a girl who was struggling to become the best dancer she can be, without the support of her parents. I found this book in a second hand bookstore, I believe, on one of my family's long road trips. I loved every single word of it and it really stayed with me, this story. I still have a battered copy of this book. I even read it recently and it passed the test of time for me. What makes me sad is that I think Karen Strickler Dean wrote other books about Maggie and her journey, and I haven't read them! I didn't even know they were available.
In Maggie Adams, Dancer, Maggie has this great love of The Nutcracker. She's absolutely determined to dance in that ballet. To be honest, I'm not very familiar with ballet - I don't know any famous ballerinas, I don't know very much about different ballets, or classical music. But still, I remember when I was pregnant with my Eldest, and we weren't sure if he would be a boy or a girl... I remember having a very strong opinion about putting 'Clara' on the shortlist for girl's names, mostly because Clara is a character from The Nutcracker!
As I said, I'm not really very aware of other YA books about ballet. Apart from Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe, which I'm very much looking forward to. I saw it on someone's else's blog, possibly on Waiting For Wednesday, and I've been excited about it.
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
Here's the book trailer:
So, that's me. I love ballet. Do you? Can you think of any YA books about ballet? Or films?