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To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4-7–Siegel was born to dance. At age six, she began to take lessons in Puerto Rico. When her family moved to Boston, she continued to study ballet and was totally inspired when she saw a performance by Maya Plisetskaya of the Bolshoi Ballet. When she was accepted at the American School of Ballet, her family moved to New York. While she was a student, she performed in numerous ballets of George Ballanchine. Her promising future came to an end at the age of 18 when she suffered a serious ankle injury. However, rather than focusing on this disappointment, Siegel notes that she went on to college and later began dancing again because, Dancing fills a space in me. The graphic format works well. The illustrations and story line blend together to create a pleasing whole. The watercolor-and-ink illustrations introduce a theme of fluidity and movement through undulating ribbons like those on a ballerina's slippers. Through one dancer's experiences during the 1970s and '80s, readers are introduced to an important period in the world of ballet and are given an inspiring message about the dedication required to become a ballerina.–Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A husband and wife team up to provide an insightful, accessible, and aesthetically engaging graphic novel that follows the latter's dance career. Well- proportioned watercolor panels trace Siena Cherson Siegel's involvement with ballet from her introduction to it at the age of six and her training as an adolescent at the School of American Ballet to her leaving professional dance when she reached college and her return to it several years later, "because I still need[ed] to dance." The fully realized account goes beyond the sacrifices and rewards she experienced to other matters, such as the effects of her parents' separation and divorce and her awe of ballet master George Balanchine. As a girl, Siena discovered Jill Krementz's photo-essay A Very Young Dancer (1976), but unlike that portrait of a girl ballerina, this one is in no way glamorized. Mark Siegel's images are often pretty, but like the story his wife tells, they are honest about a ballerina's life. Foot pain, leg injuries, and more are a part of Siena's story, which provides those who hope for or wonder about a career in dancing with a candid view of an individual for whom ballet is essential to a fulfilling life. Francisca Goldsmith
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 610 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689867476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689867477
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
How should your average adult shopper determine the difference between a graphic novel that is good and a graphic novel that is bad? It's simple. If a graphic novel is bad then it will be poorly illustrated, shamefully written, and just dull all over. If a graphic novel is good it can convert the unconvertible. I work with a woman who is a self-proclaimed woman "too old" for graphic novels. She never dug them. Never much cared for them. And then "To Dance" fell into her lap and BANG! Instant fan. This should come as no very great surprise. We're dealing with the Siegel duo. Mark Siegel the illustrator may at this point in time be best known for "Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operattea" which he penned with aplomb. He's the editorial director of First Second (the company that gave the world that go-buy-it-right-now book "American Born Chinese" by Gene Luen Yang) and a talented artist in his own right. And Ms. Siena Cherson Siegel attended the School of America Ballet where she studied "preprofessionally" (as the book's author blurb says) for twelve years. So what couple is better suited to depict the rigor and wonder of how a child becomes a ballerina, I ask you? This is a biography like you've never seen it before.

Siena begins her story this way: "Big, empty spaces always made me dance". She yearned to move. First growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and then later when her family moved to Boston. For Siena, dance was in her heart and mind. She flew to New York in 1977 to get a taste of dance rigor at the American Ballet Theater and discovered that she wanted to be a ballerina more than anything. A year later she auditioned for the School of American Ballet (founded by George Balanchine) and got in. As her home life grew unpleasant, Siena's time with the ballet became even more precious to her.
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Format: Hardcover
Bluebonnet award winner, Mark Siegel has teamed with his wife Siena Cherson Siegel and created an exquisite and tender graphic novel that honors dancers everywhere.

Siena began her dance journey in San Juan, Puerto Rico when she was diagnosed with flat feet. She started dance classes and fell in love with the art form. The story follows her family as they move to Boston where she sees the Bolshoi Ballet perform for the first time. She dreams of ballets.

At the age of 11 she auditions and wins a spot in the School of American Ballet and begins to work in earnest. She sees George Balanchine and Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, and Gelsey Kirkland in the halls. Being fitted for her first toe shoes, winning a spot in her first performance and partnering class are all milestones in her life at SAB. Family life is difficult as her parents' marriage fails. As a teenager there are boyfriends and schoolwork and worry about the shape of her body.

Plots of ballets are seamlessly woven into the story as we see the excitement and glamor of performance balanced with the hard work of practice and the heartbreak of not being chosen to perform. Her memoir also allows the reader an inside look at the grief and sorrow that overwhelmed the company when Balanchine died.

Mark Siegel draws the story with detail and love. To depict a story like this in graphic novel form allows the reader to move through the years with Siena. The reader notes the change of color of her leotard as the years pass, each color representing a higher level at SAB. Her painful injuries and aching toes from hours of dancing are communicated without words.

One scene where young Siena is reading the book A Very Young Dancer by flashlight is typical of the care and detail the Siegels have included.
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Format: Hardcover
TO DANCE: A BALLERINA'S GRAPHIC NOVEL provides a blend of history, drama, and autobiography in telling of young Siena's dream to dance, which began when she was six. Ages 8-14 are the intended readers - but younger ages will find this equally accessible in its full color graphic novel format as it tells of a young dancer's evolution.
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By K. Bodnar on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
To Dance is about a girl whose name is Sienna. She lives with her mom, dad, and her
Brother.When Siena was about 6 or 7 years old she went to dance classes.

As Siena grew older she went to ballet classes.Ballet was Siena's favorite thing to do
out of other things.

Siena's parents had lots of problems being together.Siena always got annoyed when she
heard her parents fight,so she will go to her ballet classes and that will keep her busy.

I think To Dance is a very interesting book because it has good details ,the artwork is
great.Funny in some parts too,sometimes sad.

The author's name is Siena Cherson Siegel.The artwork is by Mark Siegel. This book
is a graphic nobel.I would like to recommend this book to whoever likes graphic nobels
and ballet.To Dance is the best book I've ever read.

I hope you like it if you ever read it.
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Format: Hardcover
To Dance tells the familiar story of a young girl, in this case Siena when she was a child, who wants to grow up to be a ballerina. She starts ballet lessons, shows a real talent, and makes it to New York City where she trains in a feeder school for a big ballet company, in this case New York City Ballet's School of American Ballet, where she is discovered. Mark Siegel's illustrations allow the reader to share in Siena's wonder and sometimes confusion with this whole new world in which she finds herself. He is also a kind of translator for the "uninitiated" in ballet lore and jargon, providing illustrations and examples of being en pointe and or dancing a pas de deux to name a few. For this reason, the format of the graphic novel works very well here. It elevates the reading level beyond that of a picture book without wordy explanations that detract from the story. Those who are more familiar with ballet will find the illustrations amusing and beautiful with gorgeous renditions of the varying levels of ballet classes and some "cameo appearances" of the big names of the New York City Ballet in the 1970's to early 1980's.

This basic story has been told many times. Two examples that jump out from my reading history are Ballerina Dreams, an easy reader by New York City Ballet's Diana White and Gelsey Kirkland's only-for-grown-ups memoir, Dancing on My Grave. The big difference between these books and To Dance, aside from format, is that even those well-versed in the recent and current ballet world will not recognize the name Siena Cherson Siegel; she is not a ballerina.
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