Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow
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Booklist: I Am a Dancer

I
I am a dancer
That's who I am
What I do

- lyrics from A Chorus Line

I have been dancing and singing all of my life. My mother says I did fan kicks in the womb. I performed for my cat and stuffed animals since - well, birth, then jumped on stage any and every chance I got. I still do.

I learned the gritty, gory details about ballet from books. I read The Sisters Impossible by J.D. Landis at a very young age and took various things away from the story. I knew couldn't afford all of the special training and items, especially the multiple pairs of shoes that bleeding ballerina feet require. I knew I was too short to ever be a prima ballerina. This didn't upset me at all, because, as I said earlier, I figured out that I didn't want to be a professional ballerina. I wanted to be loud and showy, and to sing while I danced. In any event, as a kid, I checked The Sisters Impossible out of the library countless times. The book is now out-of-print. Thanks to literaticat, I now own it. Oh, thank you, thank you!

In literature, both classic and contemporary, ballet tends to be the dominate dance detailed. Without further ado, here now is a list of my favorite pieces of juvenile fiction and teen fiction about dancers.

Picture Books
The Angelina Ballerina series by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas (non-fiction)
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
The Only Boy in Ballet Class by Denise Gruska, illustrated by Amy Wummer
Josephine Wants to Dance by Jackie French
The Belinda series by Amy Young
- Belinda the Ballerina
- Belinda in Paris
- Belinda and the Glass Slipper
- Belinda Begins Ballet

For ages 6 and up
Noelle of the Nutcracker by Pamela Jane, illustrated by Jan Brett
Roscoe Riley Rules #5: Don't Tap Dance on Your Teacher by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs
- "Kids need to know there's no such thing as just-for-boys stuff and just-for-girls stuff. Like for instance, dancing elephants can be boys or girls. Dancing mice too." - Page 4

For ages 8 and up
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
The Sisters Impossible by J.D. Landis
The Susie books by Lee Wyndham, especially Susie and the Ballet Family
The Jessi books in The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin, especially:
- #42 Jessi and the Dance School Phantom
- #61 Jessi and the Awful Secret
- #115 Jessi's Big Break
Kathleen: The Celtic Knot by Siobhan Parkinson
The Royal Ballet School Diaries series by Alexandra Moss
The Rumblewick Diaries #1: My Unwilling Witch Goes to Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Sarah Warburton (Note: This series is called The Rumblewick Letters in the UK)
Brushing Mom's Hair by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Nicole Wong (verse novel)

Bonus: The Dancing Cats of Applesap by Janet Taylor Lisle - Note that this is realistic fiction, not fantasy, and the cats really do dance! They do not speak nor do they possess any supernatural abilities. No magic is involved, just good old-fashioned talent.

For ages 13 and up
On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover
Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by Maria Padian
A Dance of Sisters by Tracey Porter
Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone
A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin
- Sequel: The Farther You Run by Davida Wills Hurwin
The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman
House of Dance by Beth Kephart
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Someday Dancer by Sarah Rubin
Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati
Pirouette by Robyn Bavati
Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer
According to Kit by Eugenie Doyle
Aria of the Sea by Dia Calhoun

Biographies
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Related Booklists:
But I Don't Want to Be Famous!
But I DO Want to Be Famous!
Hey There, Sports Fan
Sing Sing Sing
Filmmakers in Fiction

Related Article:
Dance Dreams

Personal Notes and Additional Tidbits:

I wish I could have worked with Gene Kelly.

I firmly believe that dancers are athletes and artists.

For those wondering, my favorite types of dance are tap and character/jazz. I never pursued a career in classical ballet, preferring the aforementioned dance styles, but I have always loved tutus and ballet slippers.

I am very, very critical of modern movies dealing with hopeful singers and dancers. Just ask anyone who has been (un)fortunate enough to be in the room with me when Save the Last Dance or Center Stage comes on TV. That being said, I find the movie version of A Time for Dancing enjoyable, though it was not wholly true to the book. This is not only because I think Larisa Oleynik rocks, but because it was an decent film with decent dance sequences.

On July 31st, 2010: Happy National Dance Day!
Tags: booklists, books, dance, gender bias
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