Various Positions by Martha Schabas
Trapped between the hormone-driven world of her friends and the discontent of her dysfunctional family, fourteen-year-old Georgia is only completely at ease when she’s dancing. When she is accepted into Canada’s preeminent ballet school, Georgia thinks it is the perfect escape. Artistic Director Roderick Allen singles her out as a star, subjecting her to increasingly intensive training, and Georgia obsesses about becoming the perfect, disciplined student. But as she spends more and more time with Roderick, it’s not so clear exactly what their relationship means. Is he her teacher and mentor, or is there something more? These blurred lines will threaten both Roderick’s future at the academy and Georgia’s ambitions as a ballerina. (description from amazon.com)
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet. But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life? (description from amazon.com)
Leap by Jodi Lundgren
Finally, Natalie’s turned fifteen. She’s officially a grown-up (just tell her mother that) and ready for anything. School is out, and she and her best friend Sasha are going to be practicing with their dance team all summer. Dancing is Natalie’s passion — it’s what got her through the break-up of her parents’ marriage, and her father’s move halfway across the country. Now she needs it more than ever as she tries to navigate the unpredictable world of older boys — specifically Kevin, Sasha’s older brother — and learn the difference between love and lust. When her friendship with Sasha goes on the rocks, her relationship with Kevin goes too far, and her mother reveals a shocking truth, Natalie finds strength in her dancing. Will it be enough? And what will happen when a new teacher introduces her to the world of modern dance–will she find the confidence to take it on? (description from amazon.com)
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she’s deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem’s muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she’s chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? (description from amazon.com)
In 1977, when Zhongmei Lei was eleven years old, she learned that the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy was having open auditions. She’d already taken dance lessons, but everyone said a poor country girl would never get into the academy, especially without any connections in the Communist Party of the 1970s. But Zhongmei, whose name means Faithful Plum, persisted, even going on a hunger strike, until her parents agreed to allow her to go. She traveled for three days and two nights to get to Beijing and eventually beat out 60,000 other girls for one of 12 coveted spots. But getting in was easy compared to staying in, as Zhongmei soon learned. Without those all-important connections she was just a little girl on her own, far away from family. But her determination, talent, and sheer force of will were not something the teachers or other students expected, and soon it was apparent that Zhongmei was not to be underestimated.
Zhongmei became a famous dancer, and founded her own dance company, which made its New York debut when she was in just her late 20s. In A Girl Named Faithful Plum, her husband and renowned journalist, Richard Bernstein, has written a fascinating account of one girl’s struggle to go from the remote farmlands of China to the world’s stages, and the lengths she went to in order to follow her dream. (description from amazon.com)
What’s up with all the ballerina books?! These are all on my to read list, though I’m probably most anxious to dive into Bunheads since it is a Cybils finalist.