From the Publisher
"The familiar tale of a young dancer's progress takes on a newly poignant aura by being translated into the unexpectedly appropriate medium of the graphic novel."
Terry Teachout, author of All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine
"I treasure the marriage of these lovable pictures with the humble story of becoming a ballerina. I believe that with this book, the number of ballet lovers will grow."
Maya Plisetskaya, prima ballerina, Bolshoi Ballet
"To Dance is a beautiful portrait of the magical world of dance, and an even more beautiful portrait of a young girl growing up. A must-read for all dreamers who discover themselves. Brava, Siena!"
Peter Boal, artistic director, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and former principal dancer, New York City Ballet
Siena Cherson Siegel's autobiographical story will be as inviting to balletomanes as to aspiring ballet dancers. In a credible, youthful voice that conveys both confidence and innocence, she recalls her earliest inspirations to pursue dance, including watching Maya Plisetskaya perform with the Bolshoi Ballet. Mark Siegel (Seadogs), the author's husband, gracefully portrays this subtle epiphany in a single panel illustration, as young Siena looks directly at readers: "I wanted to be a ballerina." Eventually, she gains acceptance to the School of American Ballet, co-created by George Balanchine to train dancers for his New York City Ballet. The format smoothly connects these milestones with humorous childlike observations. In one series of panels, she comments on the Russian teachers at SAB: "They wore black./ Floors were black./ Doors were black./ I wore green!" The next spread then explains that this green corresponds with a dancer's level. Under Balanchine's direction, Siena danced in Harlequinade, in which Baryshnikov starred, and she watches the ballet from the backstage wings, spying Balanchine or "Mr. B.," as the dancers call him, in the wings opposite her. Later, when Mr. B. dies unexpectedly, the artwork beautifully pays homage, with a shot of his empty place in the wings. Siena leaves the ballet, after a serious injury, to attend college, yet continues to dance ("Dancing fills a space in me"). The graphic novel format allows the Siegels to fluidly balance biographical events with onstage action, capturing both the dancers' movements and their passion. Ages 8-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Snow Wildsmith
"Big, empty spaces always made me dance. A long hallway or a parking lot just begged for dance . . . like it wanted to be filled . . . and I wanted to put dance in it." This book is the story of every little girl who ever longed to put on a pair of pointe shoes. From the time Siena was six and her mother casually mentioned the possibility of dance, ballet slowly began to be the most important thing in her life. To realize her dance dreams, her family moved from Puerto Rico to New York City, where Siena was accepted as a student in the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet's training ground. She studied there until she was eighteen, and a serious ankle injury helped her decide to head to college instead of to a career as a professional ballerina. A beautifully written memoir, this book is also a stunningly well-illustrated graphic novel. The soft yet detailed pictures perfectly complement the carefully chosen words. The story is real, with both the good and bad points of a life dedicated to ballet clearly illuminated. Although the publisher is marketing it as a title for ages eight to twelve, it is much more an all-ages book. Younger middle school students will enjoy the glimpse into a specific time in the life of both a dancer and of the New York City Ballet, and older balletomanes will appreciate the opportunity to reminisce with Siegel. It is a highly recommended purchase for all libraries.
For so many dancers, it's the magic of a performance that captures their spirit and fuels a dream. For the author, it was seeing the legendary Bolshoi ballerina Maya Plisetskaya in a performance of The Dying Swan. Reading Krementz's A Very Young Dancer (1976, o.p.) was also highly motivational. She moved from her home in Puerto Rico to become a student at the School of American Ballet in New York City and danced onstage in children's roles with the New York City Ballet during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when ballet was hot stuff indeed. The graphic format for her memoir works perfectly, encapsulating the many details of rehearsal, performance and home life. Her parents' bitter divorce gives the narrative a poignant edge. The writing is direct and personal, informative and engaging. Siegel's artwork brilliantly captures ballet movement, the luminaries of the time and the daily life of a dancer. A bravura performance by author and illustrator that will be read and reread and treasured by ballet lovers of all ages. (Graphic novel. 10+)