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Soldiers of Beauty – David Ira Rottenberg – Soldiers of Beauty is a book that celebrates ballet in a unique combination of poetry and art that appeals to the mind, the emotions and the senses. The book dances, leaps and sings to all the rhythms, sounds and colors of ballet. Rottenberg writes from the point of view of the dancers, the lovers of dance and the lovers of the dancers. The poetry is funny, sad and beautiful. The artwork is simple, sensitive and vivid. Soldiers of Beauty is a book to cherish for yourself and give to your friends.
Unlovely – Celeste Conway – For those who like their ballet books with a touch of mystery and horror, Unlovely is a very enjoyable book. The writing is outstanding! There are sentences and paragraphs that are so hauntingly evocative you will want to read them two or three times. The story takes place in a New England ocean village with a fancy ballet summer school on the outskirts. The problem is that if any male (dancer or towny) breaks a ballerina’s heart, he ends up in a serious and sometimes fatal accident. Giselle is the ballet school’s summer performance and the storyline follows that plot. It is a fun, fascinating read. The story moves as gracefully, beautifully and tragically as the ballet itself. If you finish, and want more, it feels like the first book of a series. For ages 11 and up.
Someday Dancer – Sarah Rubin – Someday Dancer is a very fast and very enjoyable read. It’s a about a girl from a small town in the South who loves to dance, and unlike most ballet books where the heroine eventually makes it into the exciting world of the New York City Ballet (or whatever pseudonym the writer uses for the company), in this story, the girl’s life takes a different turn into the world of modern dance. It’s fun and well written, and if you like teen dance books, this is a must read. 12 and up.
White Swan, Black Swan – Adrienne Sharp – This collection of short stories is extremely well written and each story is in some way connected to the ballet. The prose is elegant and the perceptions are honest. White Swan. Black Swan is a work of literature for adults and teenagers.
First Love – Adrienne Sharp – Her first novel. The story goes: Adam and Sandra are ballet dancers, friends since they were fifteen, and now lovers. Sandra is a dancer in the corps of the New York City Ballet who has just caught George Balanchine’s eye. Adam is an explosively gifted new star who has defected to the rival company, the American Ballet Theatre. They are in love, passionate and ambitious, but ill-prepared to handle the demands, seductions, and expectations that are visited on them as they come within reach of their dreams. For 16 and up.
ReflectionsDance Of Dreams – Nora Roberts – The author is one of the world’s best selling romance novelists and these two books collected into one volume are her take on the world of ballet. The characters are modeled after the New York City Ballet in the Balanchine era, and while different stories, the books contain many of the same people. The plots are good (if you like romances) and the ballet descriptions are realistic. For ages 16 and up.
A Grand Passion – Mary Mackey – A romance novel about the life of a prima ballerina set in pre-revolutionary Russia.
Corpse de Ballet – Ellen Pall – OK. Haven’t you ever wanted to just murder someone in your dance class? Here’s an opportunity to live out the fantasy. A fun, well-written read for adults and teens.
A Company of Swans – Eva Ibbotson – Harriet Morton‘s father and oppressive Aunt Louisa allow Harriet to take ballet. Harriet uses her skill as a dancer to escape Victorian England with a ballet company leaving for South America. There, in the wild, lush, tropical settings, the company performs Swan Lake in opera houses built for culture-deprived rubber barons. The 19 year old Harriet meets Rom Verney, a handsome British exile. Entranced by her exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affection, Harriet is swept away by her new life…..This is a romance novel for young adults. If you like that kind of stuff, it’s a lot of fun. For teens and up
Ballet Stories – Red Hot Reads – This book is a collection stories and is intended for girls 9-14. Many of the stories are excerpts from novels and two are from chapters from the autobiographies of Margot Fonteyn and Lynn Seymour, so anyone reading the book should find something in it to love.
Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfield tells a story about three orphans, Pauline, Petrova and Posy who are adopted and attend a special school for the arts. At the school, they learn to dance, act and sing. It’s intended for 8-12 year olds but it is so well-written anyone can enjoy it. Girls love it.
On Pointe – Lorie Ann Grover – This is a book about the struggles of a teenage girl who wants to become a professional dancer. What is unusual about it is that the story is told in free verse. The writing is excellent. Even if you think you might not like an entire book in verse, it’s worth checking out. This book could be very special for you. Ages 9-12.
A Dance of Sisters – Tracey Porter – Although intended for preteens and teens, this book is so beautifully written that it transcends age.
It has some of the most evocative passages about dance that have ever been put by pen on paper. It is about two girls, Pearl and Delia, who are left motherless, and one of them, Delia, turns to dance to help her with her grief. Although Delia confronts the usual obstacles of ballet–a stern teacher, backstabbing friends and anorexia, the book has much more to offer than that. Like a ballet, the plot doesn’t matter much. It’s the writing that will make you soar. Highly recommended. Ages 9 and up.
Ellie’s Chance to Dance – Alexandra Moss – This is the first book in a series about a group of young girls who attend The Royal Ballet School for Dance in England. It’s sweet. It’s a series. And it’s very easy reading. Ages 8-12.
Drat! We’re Rats! (Bad News Ballet Series) – Jahnna N. Malcolm – A book series with a slightly different take on the world of ballet. These books are about five girls forced by their mothers to take ballet lessons. Their arch enemies are the “bunheads” who love ballet and are good at it. It’s fun to see how the girls grow as friends and how their take on ballet changes. A fun read read for girls 9-12. Battle of the Bunheads (Bad News Ballet Series 2)
Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You – Dorian Cirrone has crafted a teen novel revolving around a ballet dancer and her breasts. Kalya is an excellent dancer who attends a school for the arts in Florida. Due to the size of her breasts she is denied a role she deserves. Suddenly, the whole school becomes involved in the decision about whether Kalya should “whack the rack” or “save the hooters.” It’s funny, sad and somewhat true. Definitely for teens.
Alphabet City Ballet – Erika Tamar – A story about Marisol, a Puerto Rican girl, who wins a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Ballet. Marisol has to deal with her family, her poor neighborhood and the struggles with ballet. It’s written in the slangy style of the Spanish ghetto has proved its appeal for preteens and teens.
Another Way to Dance – Martha Southgate – Vicki Harris is accepted to the School of American Ballet summer program in Lincoln Center. All should be perfect except Vicki Harris is black and experiences racism for the first time. The book deals which what she learns that summer about herself, about her friends and about ballet. Well-written and engrossing. Ages 9-14.
Sisters Impossible – J. D. Landis – This is one of those books that seemingly everyone who reads loves. It’s about two sisters who become closer when they both become involved in ballet. It’s intended for younger girls but teenagers love it, too.
As the Waltz Was Ending – Emma Macilik Butterworth – Emma is eight years old and starting her life as a young ballet student in Vienna in the rich, opulent days of the 1920s. Everything is wonderful—her friends, her teachers, her family, her home. Then suddenly the world changes. The Great Depression begins and soon after, Hitler triumphantly marches into Vienna. An incredibly touching and true story that once read, you will never forget. This book is highly recommended but, unfortunately, is out of print. However, it is available “used” through Amazon. 12 and up.
Aria of the Sea – Dia Calhoun – A book for those who like dance and fantasy fiction. A 13 year old girl, Cerinthe, is a folk healer who dreams of being a dancer. When her mother falls ill, Cerinthe fights to save her — but fails. She blames herself for her mother’s death, gives up healing, and decides to pursue dance. Her adventures continue as she struggles between the life of a healer and the life of a dancer. An award-winning book for 9-12.
A Time for Dancing – Davida Wills Hurwin – Two girls—Juliana, a gifted sixteen year old dancer, and her best friend, Samantha have the typical teen concerns of boyfriends and dance class until Juliana is diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer…. This book has much to recommend it in terms of its brilliant portrait of a dying girl and how it affects all those around her but the subject matter is intense and not for everyone. Ages 12-up.
Reserved for the Cat – Mercedes Lackey – In 1910, in an alternate London, a penniless young dancer is visited by a cat who communicates with her telepathically. Though she is certain she must be going mad, the dancer is desperate enough to follow the cat’s advice and impersonates a famous Russian ballerina. The cat is actually an Elemental Earth Spirit, and leads the girl to stardom. Meanwhile, the real Russian ballerina falls victim to an evil troll who takes over her body and kills her patrons, drinking their life essences in order to strengthen his powers. Soon, the troll focuses his attentions on the young dancer…For teens and adults who love fantasy fiction
Moving As One (Heart Beats) – Elizabeth M. Rees – The first book in a young teen dance series. Plenty of the usual stuff–romance, dreams and heartbreak with a ballet/dance background.
Ballet for Drina – Jean Estoril – Young teen ballet series by British author Jean Estoril written in the 1950s. It’s better written than most of these type of books but hard to find.
A Rose for Melinda – Lurlene McDaniel – Another sad, touching story about a dancer with a disease. Told through letters, emails and journals, etc. Well-liked by young teen girls.
Dancer – Lorri Hewett – A contemporary story about an African-American girl’s often frustrating entrance into the world of dance. For 12 and up
Kate’s Turn – Jeanne Betancourt – A young midwestern girl attends a prestigious ballet school in New York and eventually has to decide whether to continue or return home. For 10 and up.
Shiva’s Fire – Suzanne Fisher Staples – Story of an Indian girl who is blessed and cursed with mysterious powers one of which is to dance like the god, Shiva. Well-written and enjoyable for 10 and up.
Best Little Girl in the World – Steven Levenkron – About a young girl deeply involved with ballet who suffers from anorexia. Some people really love this book, some dislike it. For 12 and up.
The Kings Are Already Here – Garret Freymann-Weyr – This is the story about a girl obsessed by dance and a boy obsessed by chess who travel across Europe and learn about their obsessions and themselves. Very well-written and highly regarded book. For 12 and up.
The Melting Season – Celeste Conway – Sixteen-year-old Giselle lives in a housewhere little has changed since the death of her father, a legendary dancer and choreographer. With her best friend, Magda, Giselle attends a New York City prep school and studies ballet under the watchful eye of her mother, an eminent former ballerina. Her life should be good but she is haunted by her father’s death and all that he meant to her–until she meets Will who seems to be the boy of her dreams. For 12 and up.
Relief – L. E. Butler – Set in 1912, the story follows young widow, Katie Larkin, as she escapes a troubled past in Boston and pursues a career as a painter in Venice. When she meets the enigmatic ballet-girl Rusala at La Fenice theater, she is instantly infatuated. In this first novel, L.E. Butler draws upon her own background as a ballet dancer, her travels in Venice and Istria, and a decade of research on the era. It is a well written, sensuous book, although there’s not much ballet in it. For 18 and up.
Ballerina: A Novel – Edward Stewart – Long out-of-print, this book has just been reissued by Open Road Media as a downloadable Kindle Book. It is well-worth doing. It is a very well written story about two friends who both want to be ballerinas and end up joining two rival New York City ballet companies. It is not a teen novel but it can certainly be enjoyed by older teens. It combines lots of ballet and lots of story. It’s not just a book that you want to read because it’s about ballet. It’s a real novel whose main characters just happen to be ballerinas. Kudos to Open road Media for bringing this book back. You’ll enjoy reading it.
Maggie Adams: Dancer – Realistic characters and all the issues that go into wanting to be a ballet dancer: boys, school, family, friends make this a very enjoyable book for 9-14.
Samantha on Stage – Eleven-year-old Samantha has always been the best in her ballet class, but when she sees the new Russian girl dance she begins to wonder who will get the coveted lead in the school’s production of the Nutcracker ballet. Good book. Ages 9-12.
Dancing Peel (a ballet story) – Lorna Hill, the author, has written quite a few fiction books about ballet and they’re all enjoyable. For ages 9-12.
Stars of the Ballet School – by Mal Lewis Jones. A fun series of ballet books for 9-12 year olds but they are hard to find.
On Stage Please – Author Veronica Tennant penned this book while principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. The book is about a young girl who longs to become a professional dancer. If you’ve ever had the dream of becoming a dancer, or just love stories about dancing and dancers, this is a very good one. Ages 9 and up.
Tutu Much – tells the story of five teens from across the country who audition and participate in a ballet summer training intensive. Kelsi is straight from the competitive circuit and queen of the bedazzled dance divas. Meaghan is a small town gal whose passion for ballet and ambition push her body beyond its limits. Lori is the youngest sister of two prima ballerinas but does she even like ballet? Paige comes from wealth beyond measure but soon learns there are lessons in life that money cannot buy. And Zel is trying so hard to convince her parents to let her tap dance that she hasn’t noticed she loves ballet. Ages 10-14.
You, Fascinating You Behind Every Great Love Song is an Unforgettable Woman. In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro wrote a love song called “Tu Solamente Tu.” Its lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy. The song, first recorded by Vittorio de Sica in 1939, catapulted to the top of the Hit Parade and earned its composer the moniker “the Italian Cole Porter.” The German version, “Du Immer Wieder Du,” would be performed by Zarah Leander, the foremost film star of the German Reich, and its English counterpart, “You, Fascinating You,” by the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. Twenty-two years would pass before the maestro and his ballerina again met face-to-face. You, Fascinating You begins as a backstage romance and ends as an epic triumph of the human spirit.
Come a Stranger (The Tillerman Series #5) Mina Smiths, whom many readers will remember from Dicey’s Song takes center stage in this addition to the Tillerman saga and holds it with energy and spirit. The story takes her from age 10 to 15, following her from a youthful dancer, full of herself and her ambitions, to a wise and realistic young woman. There is little plot here, but the story moves well, with the theme, Mina’s changing view of the world and her place in it as a young black woman, carrying it in a rich current.
Suzanne Pointe and The Brave Dancers – J. D. L. Muir – Suzanne Pointe and the Brave Dancers is a surrealistic journey in the world of ballet. Part children’s story, part fantasy, part allegory, it’s a tale of a little girl who lives in a world of dance. The story is very short—only 26 pages—but it is fascinating. The writing is mixed—sometimes beautiful; sometimes awkward but the story holds interest throughout. It’s a $2.99 download from Amazon.
Astonish Me: A novel You know the guy who drops out of college three months before graduating. Sometimes you read books like that. Fifty pages before the end, they self-destruct. Astonish Me is just like that. It’s beautifully written. The characters are alive. You rush through the book enjoying the prose, enjoying the plot, enjoying the descriptions of the dancers and the dancing and then WHAM. When you hit those last fifty pages the book just drops out. By the time, I reached the end, I hated the book, I hated the author, I hated the editor, I hated the publisher. I even hated everyone in the acknowledgements who let the author destroy this book. If you love books where you want to take a shower after reading it so you can wash away every trace of the book from your memory, this is your kind of book. It’s about two dancers who both end up at a fictional company i.e. the New York City Ballet, where there’s a ballet director called Mr. K (I wonder who that’s supposed to be) and drifting in and out of the book is a marvelous Russian dancer who defected from the Soviet Union (the book takes place in the 70’s). While all this sounds pretty trite (and is) the book really is beautifully written and the dance descriptions are superb and the first 200 pages are remarkable but then everything falls apart. But maybe the ending won’t bother you. There are 22 reviews as of this moment on Amazon and none of the ones I perused mentioned they hated the ending.