A Young Dancer: The Life of an Ailey Student

Overview

Meet Iman Bright, a thirteen-year-old student at the prestigious Ailey School in New York City. Iman is passionate about dance, but she also enjoys drawing, playing music, and of course, hanging out with her friends. Follow Iman as she warms up at the barre, practices violin, and gets ready for a performance with her fellow students.

In descriptive words and striking photographs, this informative picture book provides fascinating insight into the world of dance through the voice...

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Overview

Meet Iman Bright, a thirteen-year-old student at the prestigious Ailey School in New York City. Iman is passionate about dance, but she also enjoys drawing, playing music, and of course, hanging out with her friends. Follow Iman as she warms up at the barre, practices violin, and gets ready for a performance with her fellow students.

In descriptive words and striking photographs, this informative picture book provides fascinating insight into the world of dance through the voice of one very talented young performer.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Iman Bright is an attractive, leggy, thirteen year old who studies dance at the Ailey School in New York, attends a private school in the Bronx, and takes violin lessons on Saturday. This is her story. Iman loves to dance; at the Ailey school she studies ballet as well as jazz, West African, and the modern styles of Lester Horton and Jose Limon. She likes to hang out with her friends, swim, and practice her violin. As Iman and classmates in Level 5 warm up, stretch, and go to class in their distinctive burgundy leotards, Ivey's lush color photos let aspiring dancers and musicians follow her schedule. Readers can also catch glimpses of famed Ailey dancer Judith Jamison, who now heads the school, two of Iman's dance teachers, and her violin teacher. Classmates at the academic Riverdale School seem in a different world, but Iman says she is comfortable and happy in both. The year in level 5 will end with a performance of a Limon dance about a Jewish wedding with the students as happy guests. Blossoming in long, colorful skirts of orange, red, and hot pink, the girls rehearse and get used to being lifted by their partners, while Ivey's striking photos follow the preparations for going onstage and the exhilaration of performance. Iman loves it: she looks forward to Level 6 and more hard work. Dance lovers will pore over the pictured details, warmed by Iman's glowing smile, and learn more about the Ailey School from an informative "Author's Note." Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal

Gr 3-8

This photo-essay introduces Iman Bright, a 13-year-old African-American dance student at New York City's Ailey School. After explaining how the school was founded, she tells of the rigorous exercises that start each practice session, the different techniques she is trying to master (including ballet, jazz, and West African dance), and the preparations that go into a final performance. She also discusses her family, friends, and academic and extracurricular activities. While the description of Iman's training is interesting and informative, the text lacks cohesion. Things are not presented in a logical order, making the narrative sequence difficult to follow. For example, the text mentions the five basic ballet positions, switches to talk about Iman's room at home, and then goes back to discussing the exercises. Ivey's photos are the strength of the book. Laid out amid blue, salmon, and gold backgrounds, the bright, well-focused images depict Iman, her fellow dancers, and aspects of her life both inside and outside the studio. The dynamic movement and rich colors in the photos make the dancers seem particularly animated. As with Bill Jones and Susan Kuklin's Dance (Hyperion, 1998) and Naia Bray-Moffat's Ballet School (DK, 2003), Gladstone's work is a celebration of this vibrant art form, albeit without the former's poetry or the latter's careful organization. Iman's story could have been an exciting vehicle for promoting dance for young people of color. Unfortunately, because of the rambling text, it is more likely to languish on the shelf.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

Kirkus Reviews
"Dancing makes me feel free," says Iman Bright, a student at the Ailey School. In this very appealing photo-essay, the Bronx girl shares her love of the different dance techniques she learns at the school founded by the legendary Alvin Ailey, who gave America and the world his stunning visions of African-American dance. The photographs, presented in the format of a family picture album, showcase 13-year-old Iman at home, at school and in the studio, where she studies ballet and the techniques and styles of not only Ailey but also Jose Lim-n and West Africa. Gladstone's narration takes Iman's voice, which is disarmingly positive: "To be a good dancer, you should be able to pay attention, learn quickly, have lots of energy, and love dance. I think I have all those things." There's some sweat, lots of smiles and an all-around feeling of joy and pride. Aspiring dancers will warm up to Iman and, one hopes, put on some music and start dancing on their own. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 8-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805082333
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

VALERIE GLADSTONE is a biographer of George Balanchine, and has been writing about the arts for twenty years. She has published articles on dance in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Travel & Leisure, and Dance magazine. She lives in New York City.

JOSÉ IVEY has been a professional photographer for more than fifteen years. His work has been published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in New York City.

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