Last week there seemed to be a lot of ballet media at the Rowhouse. Over the years, lots of ballet books have come through our house, but most of them have not been loved, honestly. BalletBoy likes the idea of them, but he rarely does more than flip through. Recently, however, we discovered that our library still has its vintage copy of A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz! This is exciting stuff because the book typically goes for about a hundred dollars or more through used booksellers.
Published in 1976, this book followed a ten year-old girl who had the starring role in The Nutcracker. In beautiful black and white photos and a simple narrative text in her voice, she tells about her day to day schedule preparing for the performance. She auditions, rehearses and performs. The text is large enough to feel inviting to kids but detailed enough to feel meaty. BalletBoy excitedly read it late into the night and had to be forced to finish in the morning. By the way, if you’re curious, the New York Times ran an interesting article about the dancer from the book and what happened to her a couple of years ago. It’s worth the read. And so is A Very Young Dancer, at least, if your library also still has it in circulation.
The other ballet media BalletBoy recently discovered was the film Billy Elliot. He heard of its existence, found it streaming on Netflix and begged to see it. With mild hesitation, I watched it with him. I remembered all the swearing, which I wasn’t bothered to show him, but I wasn’t sure if the various family and strike subplots would really strike a cord with him. He loved it and watched transfixed through the movie. Mushroom joined us with less enthusiasm. At the end of the movie, all of his comments were about the coal strike. Let’s just say he was less than impressed with Thatcherism.