Someday Dancer

Someday Dancer

4.1 21
by Sarah Rubin

View All Available Formats & Editions

A ballerina tale with a thoroughly modern twist!

Casey Quinn has got more grace in her pinkie toe than all those prissy ballet-school girls put together, even if you'd never guess it from the looks of her too-long legs and dirty high-top sneakers. It's 1959, and freckle-faced Casey lives in the red-dust countryside of South Carolina. She's a farm girl: Her


A ballerina tale with a thoroughly modern twist!

Casey Quinn has got more grace in her pinkie toe than all those prissy ballet-school girls put together, even if you'd never guess it from the looks of her too-long legs and dirty high-top sneakers. It's 1959, and freckle-faced Casey lives in the red-dust countryside of South Carolina. She's a farm girl: Her family can't afford ballet lessons. But Casey's dream is to dance in New York City. And if anyone tries to stand in her way, she's going to pirouette and jeté right over them!

Casey's got the grit, and Casey's got the grace: Is that enough to make it in Manhattan someday? Or might the Big Apple have something even better in mind? When she meets a visionary choreographer she calls "Miss Martha," Casey's ballerina dream takes a thoroughly, thrillingly modern twist!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s 1959, and 14-year-old Casey Quinn of Warren, S.C., knows she was born to dance, even as she imagines her neighbors’ opinion of her: “She ain’t got no grace, and she ain’t no beauty, neither.” In a lively first-person narrative, Casey shares her determination to live her dream, despite her family’s poverty, which has prohibited dance lessons and kept her mother and grandmother working long hours to make ends meet. Encouraged by her grandmother, Casey makes her way to open auditions at the School of American Ballet in New York City, wearing the secondhand clothes of her nemesis, wealthy Ann-Lee (“the Priss”). After eliminating Casey from round one, Mr. Balanchine sends her to audition for Martha Graham, whose style Casey recognizes as her calling: “You could dance anger like this.... Or joy, or sadness, or anything.” Accepted into the scholarship program, Casey embraces her opportunity, while struggling to manage the demands of family, friendship, and school. Deftly balancing themes of good fortune and passion, hope and heartache, Rubin’s fine debut will appeal widely to artists and dreamers alike. Ages 12�18. Agent: Lindsey Fraser, Fraser Ross Associates. (Aug.)
VOYA - Jane Van Wiemokly
Dirt-poor Casey, her hardworking single mom, and grandmother barely make ends meet in 1959 South Carolina, much less have enough money for longed-for ballet lessons. Fellow student, Ann-Lee, whom Casey calls The Priss, does take lessons and is a good ballet dancer. She dares Casey into going to New York City for open auditions for the School of American Ballet. Casey does not make it past the first round, but the school's founder, Mr. Balanchine, recommends her for the full scholarship audition for Martha Graham's modern dance company, since he realizes she is a natural dancer. Getting this scholarship boosts Casey's confidence and she realizes that this is her kind of dancing. She is wary about having to share a boarding house room with Ann-Lee, but she makes friends with another girl who attends the ballet school. If the reader can get beyond the unlikely probability of an unschooled, unknown teen immediately being taught by Martha Graham, it is easier to enjoy the story at face value. Bullying; being separated from family; financial struggles; rivalry among dancers; new friendships; struggling and fulfilling dreams are just some of the themes. Rubin brings the city and dance classes to life and shows that the end result of achieving a beautiful performance almost always involves hard work, dedication, and sacrifices. Although there is a brief appearance by a male dancer, the story will mainly appeal to female teen readers who share a love of ballet and/or modern dance. Reviewer: Jane Van Wiemokly
Kirkus Reviews
A young teen in 1959 South Carolina has one dream, dancing on stage in New York City. Unfortunately, Casey's family is dirt-poor, with no money for dance lessons or much else. Her father died fighting in Korea, so her mother and grandmother, both of whom she loves dearly, must work. She can only watch from a tree limb as her rich, snooty, bullying classmate (dubbed Miss Priss) takes ballet classes. When New York City Ballet's School of American Ballet announces auditions, the Priss is certain of acceptance, while Casey must work after school for the bus fare. Once in New York, she is overwhelmed by its size and teeming population. Her lack of formal training and the ballet master's astute eye lead to a referral to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Casey loves the movements, takes classes, rehearses and soon dances with the company. Rubin, a debut author, describes the Graham style well but falters in her depiction of New York. Casey may not be the best tour guide for readers, obsessing over dance and family instead of geography, but she does learn to embrace both new friends and Miss Priss. Both Carolinians see their single-minded obsessions quickly--almost unbelievably--rewarded. Dance fans will enjoy the up-close look at a legendary dance troupe. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-16)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Fourteen-year-old Casey Quinn dances wherever she goes. It's 1959 and Casey's South Carolina family is too poor to pay for lessons or ballet shoes, but she has the confidence to believe she can make it someday. Her defiant voice reaches us directly as she tells her own story of ambition to be a ballet dancer, hatred of rival Ann-Lee (who can afford lessons), and her struggle to buy a bus ticket to New York for auditions at the School of American Ballet. Illusions are shattered when Casey sees the horde of young aspiring ballerinas at the school, but miraculously, Mr. Balanchine spots her natural talent and sends her on to a different teacher called Miss Martha. Of course, Ann-Lee is accepted into the ballet school, but Casey impresses the modern dancer, who offers her a scholarship as well. Rubin's picture of Martha Graham shows her as a brilliant, but neurotic, aging woman who fears she will have to stop dancing. Casey's triumph as a dancer in the company comes much too quickly to be believable, while her unrelenting hatred of Ann-Lee, a hard working and talented girl, becomes tiring after a while, though it's softened by Casey's love for her mother and grandmother and her joy at finding a true friend in the city. We don't see much of New York of the fifties, a truly magical place (though winters then weren't quite like Antarctica), but the atmosphere of studio and performance does suggest the hard work and struggle. While the tale is predictable, it is told with an intensity that can entrance girls who love dance and will be rooting for Casey to succeed. Those who want to know more about Miss Martha will devour Newbery-medalist Russell Freedman's Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life (Clarion, 1998). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 6�9—In this novel set in the ballet and modern dance world of 1959, hardworking, penniless Casey Quinn journeys from South Carolina to New York City to realize her dreams. The teen uses a wonderfully active voice in tune with her physical nature in her present-tense narrative, e.g., "My stomach quivers like a raw egg." Casey's stubborn can-do personality is nicely enhanced by interactions with multidimensional side characters, such as her selfless good cook of a grandma and a snobby, rich peer. Casey faces grief, loss, and many other tribulations, but she overcomes these obstacles, has some really good luck, ingratiates herself with the right people, and ultimately earns a role in a performance with the Martha Graham Company. At first glance the historical details appear suitably contextualized, although in romanticizing the era the author omits historical accuracy on a great many fronts: e.g., the famously curt George Balanchine is depicted as kind and the School of American Ballet inhabits a grandiose building rather than the plain building it actually occupied in 1959. Nonetheless, many collections will welcome this spunky '50s heroine and her introduction to the world of modern dance.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

SARAH RUBIN grew up on an island off the coast of Maine, spending most of her childhood dressing up, reading, and wandering in the pine forests. Sarah earned her BA in Creative Writing and History from Skidmore College, and after teaching dance and drama for a year, she left New England for Old England, moving overseas to Winchester, where she now lives. This is her debut novel.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Someday Dancer 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
SweetPeaBubbles More than 1 year ago
When I was young, I used to want to be a ballerina. That idea was tossed out after about a month, but I'm still always amazed by ballerinas. When I read the synopsis on the cover, I got kind of excited to read this novel. It took me a little bit to become fully engrossed in the book, but I basically finished the entire book in one sitting. Reasons to Read: 1.Casey's Determined Nature: One of the main drives in the book is how much Casey is determined to become a dancer in New York. She is willing to try anything to get a chance at her dream. I admired this because she still believes in dreams, and will stop at nothing to achieve hers. She is confident in her abilities, and she carries on, even if she is discouraged. She is a very hard worker, but she also had a lot of fun at the same time. 2.Mama and Gran: Casey's mother and grandmother are two very different, but very influential people. Her mother is a very hard working and strict mother, while her grandmother is laidback and encourages Casey's dream. The three of them are very close. Gran become one of my favourite characters because she reminded me a lot of my own grandma. She offers great advice, and is one of the most gentle people I have read about. Her mother is a bit rough, and doesn't show just how much she cares about Casey much. I found their little family to be amazing to read about. I think that Casey and her story is great to read because it teaches a lot of great lessons, such as working hard in order to achieve your goal, or the importance of keeping close family ties. I enjoyed this novel a lot, and I wish that it was longer. ARC received from Scholastic Canada for my honest review; no other compensation was received.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Read it in one sitting. A compelling and well-written story. (And I'm not someone who was even interested in ballet).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! Beautiful -ballerina
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only about 15 chapters in and i am hooked. It is nine and i need to go to sleep, but i just cant put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Defenitley on my top 3 list! My daughter does all genres of dance and ballet and contemporary are her favorite. This is a book for adults and kids! Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jordyn here! I have read this epic book even though I am not a dancer! It is all thanks to my friend Sydney who read this, so I read it and it was awesome! You should definetely read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. I read it with my daughter. I wish they would continue the story. It will make you smile and cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book it was so fun and i never wanted it to end!!! It had eveything i wanted a book to have, characters that i truly care about, an addicting storyline, and of course DANCE!!!<3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a dancer and love to read,this book is so great because it ties some history into a fictional story,I hope you like this story too.Sorry I have camas instead of periods, I could not find the period.Thanks for listening!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mya here loved the book it is so pashinate it is sucking you in to read more she is amazing and i love to dance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fav boook read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is most definately my favorite book. I was in love with book before i even finished the first chapter!!!!!! Any girl would love this book just like i did. Really i rate this book, out of 10, 1 million!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for any girl. I am reading it along with my 9 year old and I don't know who likes it better. It is beautifully written. Her descriptions of the main characters feelings are incredibly wonderful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book about a girl who wants to dance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sjegfsecsehfsw random
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Casey is a natural dancer. Every second of the day, she's tapping some kind of beat and moving her body to the music. No one but her grandmother believes in her, however. Her mom wants her to come down to earth and pursue a realistic path. The other girls make fun of her love of dance. It is her dream to make it into a big ballet school and show everyone what she knows she can do. When she arrives in New York, her dreams change. She'll still be a dancer but in a contemporary dance school. Family and friends is especially important in Casey's world. Her grandmother is her rock in her little town. Whereas everyone else believes that Casey can't make it as a dancer, her grandmother is there supporting her and giving her the encouragement that she needs. It is her grandmother who helps Casey's mom understand how much dance means to Casey. Then there is Andrea, a fellow dancer with whom Casey shares her dreams, fears, and troubles. Without all of these people, Casey wouldn't be who she is. The biggest factor in Casey's success, however, is her dedication to to making her big dreams a reality. It is so easy to fall prey to the reality trap as we grow older and start looking for a stable income that we forget to dream--to think about how to make our dreams a part of our reality. While a stable income is important, it is also just as significant to have dreams--and to have the dedication to pursue these dreams. Casey has just that. She receives a lot of negative criticism each day, and she goes through many obstacles in her path to becoming a dancer. Still, she never gives up and goes on to prove to everyone that she was right to pursue her dreams. Someday Dancer is an inspiring read about pursuing your dreams and never forgetting who you are. It is about forgiveness, friendship, dreams, and family. I recommend this for upper elementary and tween readers.