Wednesday, September 28, 2011


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?


  1. The ballet books my girls own tend to be aimed at the 10+ market. You have all the Darcy Bussell ones which are rather lovely. Valerie Mendes has one out called The Drowning.

  2. You could totally be my twin! I wanted to do ballet as a child but my mother would say, 'You come down those stairs like a herd of elephants, imagine you jumping round.' Looking back, it was her way of saying, 'I don't have the money or inclination to take you to ballet' Which is a whole other story.

    So now I watch and read anything to do with ballet. I even collect books on pointe work. I'm fascinated with being able to make your body work in that way with such grace. And the strength in those lithe limbs is unreal!

    Excuse me whilst I dig out Centre Stage to watch :D.

  3. I would love to do ballet too! It's so beautiful! Have you seen Step Up? I think there's a bit of ballet in that! And the only book I can think of is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield.

  4. When i was younger I did ballet, tap Jazz, tumbling, and I absolutely LOVED it. Unfortunately my studio closed, and my mom couldn't stand the thought of sending me somewhere that just didn't compare to my studio so I was done at age 14. I miss it terribly to this day! I love watching all the dance shows and movies. However, I never thought of reading a dance inspired book! Thanks for the idea!! I will now be on a search!!:)

  5. I always wanted to do ballet too, it was money or a lack thereof that stopped me. I adored the Ballet Shoes series of books but I can't remember reading any others. I adore Save the Last Dance, but for some reason I've never seen Center Stage. I've had a little peak at that video but stopped - I think I want to watch the whole film :)

  6. I never wanted to do ballet (I'm about as graceful and athletic as a tortoise!) but I used to love BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild. I'll have to give AUDITION a try - it looks great, and I adore books written in verse.

  7. I enjoyed the Ballet Shoes film with Emma Watson. Billy Elliot was good as well! The other day a movie came on called Streetdance 3D which incorporated ballet with streetdance. It had George Sampson and Diversity in it. Alas, I gave up halfway through because the acting was not up to par. And Audition looks great!

  8. I've read DANCING IN THE DARK by Robyn Bavati (AU 2010), as well as a manga series called FORBIDDEN DANCE. I'd recommend both of them.

    Another upcoming ballet novel is BUNHEADS. From memory I think it's on for Feb/March 2012, though I'm not entirely sure. There are a few others, I'm sure. There's a list on GOODREADS, so be sure to check that out.

    Great post though. I don't actually DO ballet, but I love watching it. I'd love to take up a class someday, actually. (probably contemporary wiht one year in ballet since not many 'adults' do it) I've always loved DANCE in general, though.

    You'd better send this blog post to Stasia though. ;)

  9. Vivienne - I'm going to look up both of those you mentioned, how fantastic! Thanks :)

    Emma - Hurrah for twins :) I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I would have made a terrible ballerina. I have no balance or coordination. I'd never have been a graceful ballerina at all, so perhaps my dad's decision was something like your mother's? I think I might just go watch Center Stage again myself...

    Cliona - I have Step Up! I think any film (especially teen film) that involves dancing, no matter how terrible it looks, I will watch it. (I think I've watched Step Up and it's two sequels by now!)

    Laceynicole2622 - What a shame that the studio closed and you didn't carry on with dance :( I'm sure watching or reading about ballet isn't quite the same.

    Jenni - Oh! Definitely do watch Center Stage, it is great fun! There's so much ballet in it, that it's just fantastic. :)

    Emma - You and me both Emma, I should have said. Even if I HAD been put in ballet classes, I'd have been ATROCIOUS at it. I just like the idea of it more than anything else. Lots of suggestions for Ballet Shoes, it seems like THE book that everyone knows about ballet :) (And I ADORE books in verse as well!)

    Kulsuma - OH MY GOD, how hadI forgotten Billy Elliot?! I love that film. I don't watch it often because of the swearing (which *I* don't mind, but I have small children) but I shall definitely be watching that one again soon. Did you ever read the book? I didn't even know there WAS a book until ages after the film. Streetdance 3D.. never heard of it. Sounds like something I'd normally watch.

    Cass - Oh I'm totally going to look up Dancing in the Dark and Forbidden Dance now, thank you so much for the recommendations :)

    And Bunheads looks fantastic! Another one to add to my wishlist :) I too just love dance in general. I'll watch anything with dancing in it!

  10. Hi! I would like to add a few movies with ballet in the background. Quite recent "Black Swan", then "The Company" (2003), "Morristown: A Ballerina Love Story" (2008), "The Turning Point" and also a horror movie from Korea called "Wishing Stairs". There is also a movie with Patrick Swayze "One Last Dance", where we can see contemporary ballet.


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