Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Limelight for Two: Tallulah's Solo by Marilyn Singer

Tallulah knew she was an excellent ballet dancer. So she was certain that this year she would be doing a solo in the winter recital.

Tallulah has earned her tutu: her plie' is perfect, and her releve' is right on. She is attentive at class and she practices every day. And she is delighted when her little brother Beckett, who enviously watches her perfecting her moves before her mirror, decides that he would like to dance as well.

But Beckett is a little boy. He'd rather slide across the polished floor than practice en pointe. He finds the barre just the right height for hanging by his knees, and he uses the mirrors on the wall to make faces, not perfect his posture. He even wanders away to play with his toy trucks in the middle of class.

Tallulah persists in polishing her skills, however, and at the audition for parts, she's sure she's caught the attention of the Mr. Fontaine, the guest choreographer for the winter production of The Frog Prince. At last the long-awaited casting is posted:

The list was already on the bulletin board. Tallulah ran over to find her name next to "Princess."

But it wasn't there.

"Look, Tallulah" said her mother. "You're one of the princess's ladies in waiting! And Beckett, you're the frog before he turns into the prince!"

Tallulah totally loses her professional poise at the unfairness of it all. Beckett acts silly in class and gets a big role. She works hard, and what does she get? She gets to play second banana to someone else's prima princess performance. Tallulah sulks quietly at home and ignores Beckett's struggles to learn his duet with the princess.

At first Beckett is delighted, hopping hugely about and rehearsing his "Ribbits!" for all to hear. But as rehearsals drag on and the big day draws nearer, he begins to get scared. "I'll never do this right," he moans, as he falls out of his deep froggy plie' every time. Tallulah begins to re-think her petulant position. After all, Beckett decided to take ballet because he admired her. And Tallulah, as a member of the ompany, realizes that the show must go on and that she can help make their performance a good one with a careful extra coaching for her little brother.

By the recital, Tallulah was the most graceful of the ladies-in-waiting, and Beckett had become a pretty good frog.

Mr. Fontaine told him what an excellent job he'd done. "It's because Tallulah helped me," Beckett explained.

"I see," said the choreographer. "I'll remember that."

Hard work and esprit de corps are sure to pay off for our Tallulah in Marilyn Singer's sequel to her popular Tallulah's Tutu (see my review here), her latest, Tallulah's Solo (Clarion, 2012). Again illustrated by Alexandra Boiger's delightful pastel paintings, this latest story takes our Tallulah forth into her ballet career and by the time she earns the lead role she has learned there is more to stardom than a tutu and a perfect tour jete'.

For little balletomanes, pair this one with the similarly themed Miss Lina's Ballerinas and the Prince by Grace Maccarone, reviewed here, for a danse duet.

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