Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Very Young Dancer

A Very Young Dancer
by Jill Krementz
Alfred A. Knopf, 1977

Originally my sister's book, A Very Young Dancer was pivotal in her wanting to be a ballerina (and doing as such until she hurt her leg while on toe when she was around 12). I have to say, this book had a lot to do with me wanting to be a performer. That said, this one is slated a little older than I usually read for, but I figure any child who is the least bit interested in dance will be as enthralled as my sisters and I were by this enchanting tale.

More of a photo essay then anything, the story follows a real life little girl who attends ballet lessons at Lincoln Center and is cast as the lead in the NYC Ballet production of The Nutcracker. Really, there are so many reasons why this book is awesome, that it is hard to communicate just how much it touched me when I was young and impressionable. It was almost an obsession. Its pages so familiar, looking back now, they almost seem my own memories rather than the tale of a girl I've never met.

I love ballet. I've been taking lessons since I was six. I'm ten now. My sister Andrea, who is twelve, started when she was eight. We both go to The School of American Ballet. She's taking toe this year and she lets me try on her slippers. Next year I'll take toe for five minutes at the end of each class. Andrea says it makes you feel big but that's just the beginning. After a while it just hurts. You get blisters and bunions. Her feet are a mess. You should see them.

In spite of the horrible feet and inevitable nicotine addiction all dancers face, it is hard to be a little woman and not read this book in awe. From the girl's smart attire attending lessons to the anxiety of the auditions to the roses on closing night ~ all photographed intimately and lovingly ~ she is, quite literally, living the dream, and it is hard not to get swept up. She's one "where are they now" that I would die to know.

NOTE: Jill Krementz. Who knew she is Kurt Vonnegut's widow? AWESOME.

Also by:
A Very Young Circus Flyer


Anonymous said...

One of my all time favorites (along with others from the "A Very Young . . . " series). Seeing the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center was that much more magical for having read this book as a little girl.

For some reason I associate this book with The Little Duck by Judy Dunn.

Thanks for helping to keep all these great (book) memories alive for me!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, a blast from the past!! I also loved "A Very Young Skater" -- because I was a skater too back in the day. Thanks for posting this one, I'll have to see if my parents still have it somewhere.

Melissa said...

I love these - I have the whole set.

Burgin Streetman said...

i know i know... i love i love

Lou@weheartbooks said...

Oh my goodness I loved this book too. I have to write about this one on Weheartbooks but I need to find my copy - I'm hoping mum has it. I used to read this over and over dreaming that I would have a part in the Nutcracker.
I remember the black and white photography is beautiful.
I don't know how I missed this when you originally posted it but I'm excited I've seen it now.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite books to revisit and dream to as a child. Regarding children's ballet books, have you ever heard of Louis Untermayer's Tales from the Ballet? The illustrations are pretty fascinating.

Anonymous said...

This "little dancer" is currently my youth group leader at my church... Only a couple people in that group know of her secret... The picture's from when she was ten look so much alike her now!

quesadilla said...

Its funny reading this because the young dancer from "A Very Young Dancer", Stephanie, is my mom's best friend and is my neighbor! She is truly a lovely woman and is doing great. She let me read the original copy of the book which is signed by her. I was blown away by her childhood. I love her!

Burgin Streetman said...

I know she would never wanna do it, but I literally get dozens and dozens of e-mails about her. I know people would flip for a "where are they now" story if she was ever interesting in doing that. People really love that story and it really made such an impact on the lives of so many little girls.

Anonymous said...

Here's where she is now. Just saw this today! http://nyti.ms/tur917

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