Friday, January 29, 2021

Lost in the Dance! Bunheads by Misty Copeland

It was Misty's first ballet class. Their teacher, Miss Bradley, had them sit in a circle while she told them about the ballet--"Coppelia"--that they would perform for their recital. Misty was enchanted with the story of a toymaker who worshipped his creation of a beautiful doll named Coppelia and longs to turn her into a real person, scheming to use the infatuation of a boy, Franz, the fiance' of Swanilda, to help bring the doll to life.

Misty is inspired by the story, and when Miss Bradley puts the girls to work, teaching them some basic ballet moves--the tendu, the soutenu, the rond de jambe, and the pas de bourree', she does her best to perform the figures well. Their teacher is also impressed with another new student, a small, lively girl named Cat.

"Have you ever danced "Coppelia" before?" asked Miss Bradley.

Misty shook her head. "I've never taken ballet before."

"You both are very gifted," their teacher said.

Misty and Cat and the rest of the corps de ballet work very hard through the fall, and when they begin to rehearse "Coppelia," the two try out for the two lead roles. Miss Bradley chooses Misty to play Swanilda and Cat to play Coppelia.

"They inspired each other!"

And finally it is time for the performance.

Bright spotlights spilled onto the stage, catching the spell of stillness that that would only be lost in movement.

Then Misty was lost in the dance.

Prima ballerina Misty Copeland's semi-autobiographical story of her first starring role, Bunheads (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2020), will inspire young balletomanes to work on their rond de jambes, while also inspiring the esprit de corps among all their fellow "bunheads" who are becoming dancers. The artwork of Setor Fiadzigbey features luminous, statuesque illustrations done in muted but warm colors with shadows of the dancing figures emphasizing their graceful moves. Not every young bunhead is going to star in their first season of classes, but most will be encouraged by this account of the hard work and beauty of the dance, what Copeland calls "magical and full of mystery." Along with Misty Copeland's other book, Firebird and biographies Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition, Misty Copeland (You Should Meet), and I Can Read Fearless Girls 2: Misty Copeland: I Can Read Level 1, these books for young ballerinas make great holiday gifts.

“The sense of movement, perspective, and depth [illustrator Setor Fiadzigbey] brings to Bunheads is like nothing I've ever seen, and... any child who has ever had a dream or felt passionate about something will find themselves in the book's pages," says NPR's reviewer.

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