Tag Archives: dance

Dance Books

My daughter, 6, is interested in ballet as so many other girls her age are. It is part of the package of being a girl: ponies, ballet, and pink. She asked me to get some books about dance, and I brought home a stack of over 20 from the library. These are the ones that made the cut by being worth reading, not amplifying the ballet message too much, and keeping the kids’ attention. My son, 3, also really loves reading these.

Tallulah’s Solo, a book in the Tallulah series, features an older sister/younger brother relationship. Tallulah envisions herself being the best dancer and getting adoring attention from her fans while the other dancers are relegated to the background. She spends her time in class both practicing but also trying to keep her brother in line. When he gets a better part in the ballet, she is upset, but with some support comes around to repair her relationship and then the two siblings get a dual role in the next ballet. My kids request this one over and over.

Ballerina Rosie, one of Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York’s series to highlight red-headed protagonists in a positive light, hits my daughter’s interests on so many fronts. It has pink, it has a red-headed girl protagonist (with the same name!), and it is about ballet. In this story, Rosie loves to dance until she takes lessons and seems to lack the ability. After a wonderful gesture from her teacher, Rosie gets her confidence back, and she finds that was all that was missing.

Barn Dance was one of the books I got to broaden the scope from just ballet. In this charming story, the animals all sneak into the barn at night to have an old-fashioned barn dance, and the farmer’s boy happens to see it happening and tags along. Written in a lyrical style that evokes fiddle tunes, the writing matches the theme, and I often read it to a dance tune.

A similarly themed book, Tap-Dance Fever, features a tap-dancing girl who just can’t stop. She passes through her rural setting tapping her toes on everything. The townsfolk try all kinds of solutions to stop her, but she persists. In the end, her dancing is a boon for the town and all the people who were disgruntled by it originally. A fun read with an indomitable female protagonist whose do-good attitude is refreshing.

The last book to make the cut is Color Dance. This one combines dance with color mixing as children dance through the pages with scarves of different colors. It is very visual and puts a spin on the usual dance stories being about a person.

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Taking a Break

Over the summer I was either working hard or parenting much of my waking hours. This weekend I leave both of those behind for a few days to sink into the embrace of a deep community of friends, in the woods, surrounded by music and dance, buoyed by water and rock.

I am taking a break. For the first time in over 600 days I will not be posting on this blog. I will not check Facebook, I will not check email, and except for the occasional peak for emergencies, I will be screen free. I have also been working hard to get more healthy and tracking my food and exercise. I will eat wisely and dance a lot, but I won’t worry. I am taking a break.

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Bharatanatyam Arangetram

Sunday evening, I attended the Indian classical dance debut of a former student. She was stunning. As I sat watching this confident performance, a combination of grace, strength, and emotion rare in fifteen year-olds, I could not help thinking of my own children. Though bar and bat mitzvas require quite a bit of work, this performance was on a whole other level.

Here was a person who I remember being silly, being very smart, being mature, being a student. Here she was so brilliantly performing in another context that she had been working on even when in my class. Here she was embodying her passion for dance and culture. As a former teacher I swelled with pride and emotion; I can’t imagine what was going through her parents’ hearts.

I wonder if my children will find a passion to follow and the discipline to realize their goals. How much do parents contribute to that path, and how much comes from the children themselves?

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A panorama of the dance hall.

On Sunday I returned from a weekend near Bloomington, Indiana where I have attended a dance event for almost 20 years. During the weekend, I talk with friends, make new friends, camp, swim in a lake, find fossils, listen to music, dance, and many other things. All of these combine to make this weekend one of my favorite times of the year; it feeds my core person.

In time, perhaps next year, I plan to bring my children to this event. Because it is so close to the beginning of the school year, it is hard to get away as a family, but that might happen, too. I can’t wait to see my daughter discovering fossils, sleeping in her tent, listening to music, and most of all being welcomed by a community to which I am strongly connected.

I hope these thing become part of her core, too.

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