I never danced seriously myself and didn't watch ballet; it was too slow, and there are no words. Then my kids started to take ballet. It very quickly turned into something serious. My elder daughter danced with great dedication for many years, taking class six days a week. All those classes came with parent observation—endless classes where you watch a room full of girls point their feet again and again while I sat on plastic chairs and wooden benches. But slowly (really, it took me years), I began to find the beauty of it. The more I learned, the more I appreciated the art. But—don’t tell my kids—class is still hideously dull to watch.
One of the things that made me grow to love it so much was the passion that of everyone involved: students, teachers, performers. Even the receptionists. Everyone there thought no amount of time, effort or money was ill spent. It’s easy to get caught up in the obsession.
That kind of passionate dedication makes for fascinating characters in a book. And for even more drama in romance, the dancers are ending their dance careers for one reason or another.
Ballerina Bride by Fiona Harper is probably my favorite ballet book for the way it portrays the life of a dancer. Allegra should be at the top of her career, but she’s floundering—personally, professionally, and artistically. Harper nailed that love/hate relationship that many dancers have with their art.
It might look effortless from the outside, but from the inside it was hard and demanding. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t pretty or nice. A fierce kind of beauty that asked for you very soul in return for greatness, and then devoured it without compunction.