by Sophie Flack
The grueling schedule. The constant pain. The competition, the pressure to be perfect – it’s not all tutu’s and unicorns in the Manhattan Ballet Company. It’s a constant grind. The amount of years a dancer has to dance is limited – so if you want to be part of this group, you have to be willing to endure it all. And still end up stuck in the back of the corps, not at center stage, not receiving the boisterous applause at the end of the show. You have to love it. Every bit of it. For those years, your world is the theatre, the gym and the studio space. But the dancing is enough…right?
I went out and bought this book for two reasons: 1. that gorgeous cover. Beautiful. 2. Dancing. You’re talking to a girl who saw Center Stage more than twice in the theatre. And the girl who watched Center Stage 2 (which makes me one of the few who can say “I knew new-Ren when”)(And yes, that is the most fun tongue-twister ever.) the NIGHT it premiered. Target Audience.
Flack, a former dancer, doesn’t hold back in her descriptions of (what I can only imagine is) the grueling life of a dancer. The highs, the lows. The thrill of the stage, the dealing with the bunions. She does a great job, I think, at giving the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the world of competitive ballet dancing. No rose-tinted glasses here.
Where the writing was at its weakest, I thought, was in Hannah’s waffling about staying with the company or leaving to pursue life outside the theatre. I wasn’t convinced that she really yearned for a “normal” life as much as she wanted to be promoted.*
All around, though, I thought Bunheads was a solid-debut and am looking forward to more from Flack. Hopefully more dancing. There just aren’t enough awesome ballet books. But, really, I’ll keep my eye out for her in the future, no matter the topic.
* UNINTENTIONAL SPOILER: One time, just ONCE, I want a protag to choose her passion. Not that I don’t understand the whole “pursue worldly things” and all that but still. SOMEONE has to think the thing they’ve loved their entire life is worth it, right? It’s not all for naught? Besides Jody Sawyer and Eva, of course. Le sigh. /rantover.