Dear Miss Snark,
Everyone wants to be a star. Dana Delacy is one. Dana never outgrew her dreams of being a ballerina when she grew up. Instead of going to school at her local public high school, Dana moved to New York City, where she lived in the dorms and went to the elite New York School for Young Dancers. While normal teenagers were frantically trying to find homeroom on the first day of high school, Dana was doing Pilates. She went to the opening night of Swan Lake instead of the Homecoming football game. But when she fell during an audition at the beginning of her Junior year and did irreparable damage to her knee, Dana’s beloved ballet school swiftly expelled her. (you know that the Dance season is summer, not Fall, right? Swan Lake is much more likely to be presented in June than November.)
Back home in Colorado, Dana discovers that all the grace she learned in ballet classes is useless in high school Algebra 1, and having perfect extension definitely did not equip her to open a jammed locker. Of course, that doesn’t matter, because Dana plans to move back to New York as soon as her leg heals. In the meantime, she’s going to try to experience everything she can’t experience at private school. She has an unfortunate encounter with a hot air balloon, befriends the world’s biggest klutz, and discovers a knack for twisting balloons into animals. In fact, learning not to dance is so much fun that by the end of the year Dana is no longer sure she wants to return to New York.
Learning Grace is a young adult novel with a chick-lit tone, complete at 65,000 words. It is my first novel. I have more than fifteen years of experience in the pre-professional dance world, as both a teacher and a student. Unfortunately, my most memorable performance involved a face plant into a white-feathered fan during Swan Lake. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
You're focused on events here when, as you know, ballerinas are mostly about obsession. This isn't a novel about algebra, this is a novel about a young girl either coming to terms with not getting her heart's desire, or, worse, getting it.
There were no lockers. No bells. There certainly was no yucky cafeteria food. Despite appearances I did actually eat the food we were served – and it was fabulous. But the best part of going to the New York School for Young Dancers was that we never had homework or tests. We had auditions, rehearsals, and performances. Much more fun. Especially when I was the one in the spotlight.
The music crescendoed as I stepped up into position. Grande allegro has always been my strongest type of dance. For this audition, I planned to fly. My best friend Mei was just finishing her combination. She leapt effortlessly, like she was born with springs in her legs, and ended with a brilliant arabesque that put her leg up above her head. Much less graceful walking than she was dancing; she waddled back towards the end of the line. She paused by me.
“Slippery floor today,” she whispered as the very next dancer lost her footing midway through the combination and fell less than gracefully out of a series of turns. I was already counting down to my cue as she spoke. Rosin, which would make my shoes sticky, was on the far side of the room. No time to change my shoes, no way to change the floor, and if I held back it would ruin my audition.
So I danced. I started with a fast-paced set of pique turns, spinning faster and faster across the floor until the last one changed direction and I stopped dead in an arabesque balance. I held the balance until the split second before the music changed and then I was off across the floor a second time in a set of fabulous, flying leaps. Going into the final leap, it was flawless. I wish time could have stopped in that perfect split leap, miles higher than any other leaps performed that day.
But I came down again. And when I came down with my weight shifted slightly to the inside of my left foot. (here's your lead --->) There were two snapping sounds. One came from my shoe. The other one came from my knee. The next thing I knew, I was facedown staring at the honey colored floor, and my whole body hurt. I heard someone comment that they’ve never seen a leg bend that way. It’s not good when a dancer says that.
You're telling me how you feel, not showing me. Dancers can describe pain in ways that amaze me. You don't do that here.