September 25th, 2012


Someday Dancer by Sarah Rubin

Maybe you can't do ballet in high-tops, but that don't mean you can't dance.

I know I don't look like a ballerina, not in these dirty high-tops with my scabby knees. But inside there is a ballerina leaping to get out, leaping so hard that sometimes I think she'll bruise my heart.

- from Someday Dancer by Sarah Rubin, Page 105 and Page 9

Casey is a dancer, heart and soul. She can't help but skip down the streets of South Carolina and twirl-twirl-twirl whenever she feels like it. She's been in love with ballet since she was little, when her grandmother took her to see Cinderella and she could barely stay in her seat, eagerly pointing her toes and wishing she could "scramble down the aisle and dance with [the ballerinas]." Unfortunately, her family can't afford ballet lessons, so Casey regularly peeks in the window of a dance studio and copies the moves to the best of her ability.

When she learns about an open audition for The School of American Ballet in New York City, Casey saves up the money she earns working beside her mother as a cleaning lady at the hospital. With some assistance, she manages to make it to New York. The first audition leads to an opportunity that is better suited to Casey, something she hadn't even imagined, something she's never tried before: modern dance.

The year is 1959, and Casey's new instructor is Martha Graham, who is widely regarded as a pioneer in her field. Though, at times, I thought that more detail and description of movement and choreography would help readers who have never seen or experienced modern dance, I appreciated the moments when Casey expressed her love for dance and her gratitude for the opportunities she was given because I'm a dancer and actress myself. Those who know what it feels like to do well at an audition or on a test of any sort will understand this:

I walk out of Miss Martha's studio and down the street, floating towards the bus station. I don't care if people push past me, or shoot me the greasy eyeball for not scooting fast enough. I want to soak up every last second of the city. [...] I know I'll be back, but I want something to hold on to, something to remember while I'm waiting in the wings in Warren. When I get on the bus to go home, my heart is full... - Page 104

The beginning of chapter 29 on page 192 captures the experience of the first time you enter a beautiful theatre in which you're going to perform. It feels like if I open the door all the way I might let the magic out. Yes, yes, yes. For dancers, actors, singers, this can be our wardrobe to Narnia.

Anyone who was raised with love but very little money and had dreams that seemed out of reach due to that financial situation knows what it's like to walk in Casey's shoes. I hope that you dance if you want to, that you move when the music moves you, whether you're in toe shoes, tap shoes, sneakers, or your bare feet!

Related Booklist: I Am a Dancer
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Mindy Kaling Loved The Westing Game and The Baby-Sitters Club

Mindy KalingReason #458769 Why Mindy Kaling Rocks: In an interview with Sara Benincasa for Bookish, actress/writer Mindy Kaling discussed the books she loved reading when she was growing up:

Bookish: When you were a little kid, what was your favorite book?

Mindy Kaling: I loved a book called The Westing Game, which was a murder mystery. It didn't really condescend to kids, which I liked. I'm very sensitive to books that are condescending, and I felt that book was just a great, well-written mystery thriller that happened to be popular with kids.

Thumbs-up, Mindy! In elementary school, one of my favorite books was The Westing Game - and I'd still love to play Turtle Wexler. I'm completely serious. Sign me up.

In the aforementioned article, Mindy also mentions The Baby-Sitters Club, Encyclopedia Brown, and Sweet Valley High. Leave a comment below if you read those series as well!

Mindy wears many hats on the new show The Mindy Project: lead actress, writer, creator, producer, all-around rock star. You may also recognize her from her role as Kelly Kapoor on The Office. She was also a staff writer on the show. Here's some trivia from Wikipedia: "Kaling first joined The Office as a writer when she was 24, as the only woman on a staff of eight, and then took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor. She has written at least 22 episodes, including [the episode featuring Jim and Pam's wedding] Niagara, for which she was co-nominated for an Emmy with Greg Daniels."

Looking for something fun to read? Pick up Mindy's light-hearted memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I highly recommend it.

This blog post was first published in December 2011. Updated in September 2012 to add:

Here's another great interview, this time from Vulture, written by Jada Yuan. Mindy sounds driven and determined. High-five, lady.

"I don't understand how and when she sleeps," says Barinholtz. "There are nights where she'll be taping until two in the morning and I'll come in earlyish, and she'll already have been there, in a good mood."

Another high-five for you, Mindy. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me:
"Did you sleep?"
"Did you sleep here?" (at work/the set/the theatre)
"Do you ever sleep?"
"What time did you get up?"
"Why are you in such a good mood?"
- I'd be rich.

Best of luck to all those involved with The Mindy Project. I hope it rocks.

Follow Mindy on Twitter @mindykaling