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.
A Very Young Circus Flyer