Mother-daughter writing duo Once Upon a Dance (Danika’s Dancing Day) is back with the first in a new series, Ballet Inspiration and Choreography Concepts for Young Dancers, offering a detailed introduction to posture for ballet dancers. Likening ballet to a “gorgeous muti-layered cake,” the authors dedicate this title to that cake’s first layer—the basic dance stance that underpins more elaborate ballet techniques—and teach readers the skills necessary to master posture fundamentals. Inspired to demonstrate that ballet is equal parts challenging and rewarding, the authors combine step-by-step guidance with playful metaphors to deliver a beautifully crafted handbook for beginning and more advanced dancers.
Readers will gain serious know-how in this energetic guide. From the steps required to execute a perfect relevé to getting the hang of proper leg rotation during turnout, ballet posture is analyzed from every angle. To help speed up the learning process, and to give readers a slice of entertainment while presenting what the authors acknowledge are challenging skills, the authors present each move with engaging metaphor. Rising to toes from flat feet is compared to “leaning forward to smell a gigantic pot of your favorite food,” and the secret to widening shoulders when practicing posture is to imagine “a cobra snake stretching [its] hood sideways.” Whimsical watercolor illustrations by Stella Maris Mongodi bring the mechanics to life.
The icing on the cake is Ballerina Konora’s personal dance notes, such as how to capture the attention of an audience through minimal movement and the positive physical effects of learning good posture through structured dance. Also significant is her down-to-earth treatment of the pressures that accompany ballet. She encourages beginners that “hardly anyone likes ballet during their first year” and urges breaks, when needed, to explore other interests. This story is an aesthetic reminder of ballet’s technical skills that will motivate dancers to “find joy in [their] learning.”
Takeaway: A step-by-step guide to ballet posture that offers inspiring commentary and professional tricks of the trade.
Great for fans of: Rachel Isadora’s Lili at Ballet, Darcey Bussell’s The Ballet Book.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Such a simple book about the basic postures of ballet that is bound to make kids feel supported and encouraged on their journey.
This is one of the cutest and most simplified “how to” books for children.
This book is for all those who are interested in ballet.
If your kid wants to start learning ballet, this book is perfect to give them an idea of what to expect and it is so well detailed that it could help them learn some moves and begin practicing ahead of class so they don’t go in without a clue.
If your kid is shy and doesn’t like to ask questions or isn’t sure s/he is doing something right, this book simplifies the postures down to how they are supposed to be breathing, like their own private tutor at home.
If your kid is bored at the beginning and wants to quit, this book might be just what they need to stick through the process as it encourages them to stay motivated and helps them see the importance of the boring steps they initially have to learn.
Despite being a book on ballet postures, the book also spreads the important message of enjoying other things in life and never going all or nothing for anything.
The book also asserts how important it is to have a strong foundation of movements and stillness when it comes to any desirable advancement in the art of dance in general and ballet in particular. It also encourages self - expression and normalizes having different opinions even in something as structural as ballet and performances.
Kids will find the art work that accompanies the instructions quite appealing as it compares certain movements to those of animals (and what kids don’t absolutely love animals?)
Dance Stance by Once Upon a Dance is written by a professional ballerina who shares advice from her own experiences and encourages children (or adults) to just have fun and move their bodies, because that is what ballet is truly all about!
—Fatima Aladdin on Reedsy
A superb tool for ballet beginners focusing on the importance of posture and balance. Highly recommended!
I must begin by saying what a truly excellent book this is for children (and possibly even adults) who plan on beginning ballet and need an accessible way of understanding the basics of posture, balance - and even stillness! In this superbly illustrated book - with a very sweet cat on every page - the authors help the reader to understand the importance of placing feet, connecting to the floor, and keeping balance so they can spin and jump. The text is written in a very accessible way and is not overly technical, helping the reader, step-by-step, to understand how to do the different movements. As well as helping beginners to understand balance and posture - and even the importance of stillness and how dramatic it can be - the author also expends a little ink on discussing how inspiring dance is; and how dancers can be inspired by other things in life such as books, art and nature. In fact, what I liked best about the book was the author´s healthy approach to dance; it´s not the ´be all and end all´ of life but, as the author puts it, “I like to think of dance as a gorgeous multi-layered cake, full of delicious fillings such as jam and cream.” And everybody enjoys cake!
—The Wishing Shelf
BOOK WORM FOR KIDS REVIEW
Posture and position with encouraging words and a personal touch are only a few nuggets of goodness inside these pages.
This book is all about dance stance, and while that might sound simple, there's quite a bit to it. Starting with a few, personal thoughts to the reader, the chapters then dive into the various aspects and hints to create the basic stance for ballet. It describes the importance in paying attention to positioning, while explaining exactly how that is achieved and what to look out for. There are also more than a couple short letters from ballet dancers, which offer thoughts and personal insights into dancing. And there is more than a little support and enthusiasm along the way.
This is written as if the author is directly talking to the reader, which gives it a very personal atmosphere. The reader learns exactly how to hold their feet, legs, and other parts of their body through very exact descriptions, which are accompanied by quite a few fun comparisons (zipping pants, leaning in to smell a huge pot of spaghetti). I was glad to see that it's also explained why these positions are important. The text is kept fairly short in a usual earlier chapter book style. While much of it is simple to read, there were several sections, where the writing is better geared for slightly older (lower middle grade) audiences. So, this may fit better for a slightly older audience (ages 7 to 10) in many cases.
The illustrations are full of positive vibes, add a touch of humor, and keep a perfect-ballet-feel thanks to the pastels and soft lines. These are fun to flip through, and they do offer assistance in understanding the positions described in the text, when necessary.
To top everything off, the letters from other ballerinas give words of encouragement and add a very, nice touch. Readers will realize that ballerinas, who have already been dancing/learning for awhile, are just like them. Plus, the thoughts and concerns are ones they themselves might have, at one time or another. The reader feels as if they're being embraced into the group and are truly welcome to the ballet realm.
—Tonja D at www.bookwormforkids.com