Sunday, December 12, 2010

I dreamed I was a ballerina

Title : I dreamed I was a ballerina

A girlhood story by Anna Pavlova
Illustrated with art by Edgar Degas

Publisher - The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Atheneum Books for Young readers

Age group : 4+

I was browsing the bookshelves in our library, when I chanced upon this book. It seemed a precious find even at the first glance. I somehow felt that my 4 year old daughter S, would enjoy this story with the related pictures. Now after multiple readings of this book, both of us have fallen in love with this great book !

As the header mentions, it is the childhood story of Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian Ballerina. To be honest, before I read this book, all I knew about her was that she was a famous ballerina and one of the main inspirations for Rukmini Devi Arundale. This story as narrated by Pavlova herself talks about her childhood and what got her interested in ballet.

Little Anna is taken for a theatrical performance of the Sleeping beauty at the Mariinsky theatre , as a treat for her birthday. Being her first time, she is very excited and looking forward to the surprise. As the performance begins, she is enthralled and mesmerised by the graceful dance movements of the young girls and the legendary Tchaikovsky's music. It is at this very performance that the seed of being an excellent ballet dancer, gets planted in her tender heart. Her dream of becoming a world famous ballerina, does come to fruition (as we read in the epilogue) but after facing lot of challenges along the way.

The illustrations that have been used in this book are the art works of Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917). He was as passionate about ballet as a subject of his art works , as Anna Pavlova was about performing ballet. I was surprised to note from the footnotes in this book that Degas and Pavlova never met each other. Most of his ballet inspired art was much before her time. So this book is very interesting in the sense, that the art works which would best complement the text and the story have been used. They have this ethereal quality about them, which would make you want to go back again and again to admire them.

My daughter so loves this book ! Currently this is her favourite bedtime story. She loves dance and recently she watched a small clipping of Anna Pavlova's dance as enacted by the students in my son's school day programme. Each night as I read this story to her, she gets this dreamy look. May be she is transported to a ballet land full of little girls in beautiful pink dresses and swaying elegantly to the music ! May be she dreams of being an Anna Pavlova some day :-)

Note : The story is drawn from Anna Pavlova's 1922 autobiography, Pages of My Life


Choxbox said...

Must be enchanting! Thanks for bringing it to us R.

Btw if S really loves it, why don’t you take her to watch it live or even enroll her into some ballet lessons? Bet she’ll love it!

Also there is this book called 'Degas and the Little Dancer' by Laurence Anholt that she might like. It is the story of the girl who posed for one of Degas’s most famous works - The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.
Have spotted this one at Landmark.

artnavy said...

sounds lovely

get S a ballet outfit and dhe may also like the Angelina ballerina series

Vibha said...

This is really lovely Ranjani.
Two girls from our aptt complex go for Ballet classes on Fridays. They enjoy the class thoroughly.

sathish said...

If there has been a book in the recent times in our household which has been inspirational - it has been this one.

sandhya said...

Lovely! You have brought out a dreamy quality in your review.
BTW, there is a wonderful ballet teacher who takes classes in Koramangala. I believe she has classes elsewhere in the city too.

wordjunkie said...

Sounds lovely!
My Imp loves dancing, and has been taking ballet lessons for a while. This is a book she will definitely want to read.

ranjani.sathish said...

Thanks for the recco Chox..will first check it out in the library.

Art, Vibha,Sandhya,Wj thanks for your comments and all of you have given such valuable inputs ! Will mail you all soon..have lots of questions on these ballet classes.

Meera Sriram said...

The disconnect with the illustrator, adds that intrigue and dreaminess I guess. Yea, if S watched a live performance, she may be inspired just like her Anna was :) R has been taking ballet lessons for a few years now and we've enjoyed watching Nutcracker and the Swan Lake, so I can see that something about lil girls and tutus:)

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