by Amanda Brice
“Glissade, pique arabesque, and now pull into retire en face!”
And thus begins the second chapter of my second book, Pointe of No Return, which features a kidnapping (and search for the missing girl) during Nutcracker rehearsals at a performing arts boarding school. My heroine, freshman ballet student Dani Spevak, is assigned to understudy her rival Hadley Taylor as the Sugar Plum Fairy, when Hadley goes missing. And in typical Dani fashion, he sets out to find her.
I’ve never solved mysteries, but Dani and I have several things in common. First of all, we love to dance. Okay, that’s a given. You probably share that with us as well, if you’re reading Catherine Tully’s wonderful 4dancers blog.
We both consider Nut season to be “the most wonderful time of the year” (even though my 3-year-old told me yesterday she can’t go see Nutcracker because she’s allergic to nuts). And we’ve both ended up getting to perform in a ballet even when we thought we’d been relegated to understudy status.
In my case, I was understudying a performance of Gaite Parisienne and one of the older girls in the company got hospitalized with bulimia. It was a weird feeling for me. A real paradox. On the one hand, I was super excited to get to perform, but that meant that Rachel was very, very sick. And you can’t exactly celebrate that, you know?
Same thing with Dani. Hadley’s missing, and it’s actually not in her best interest to find her – this way she gets to dance – but how can you really celebrate that (even if Hadley is the meanest girl in school)? You can’t.
So I took that awkward feeling and built a story around it. Only I changed the basic facts as to why my heroine got to dance. Because while a story about eating disorders might be relevant from a social commentary standpoint (and I do weave them in as a subplot), it probably wouldn’t make for a very good plot. (Or at least not the type of plot I write.)
Despite spending my youth in the dance studio, my day job these days is as an attorney. But pleadings and briefs can be very dry, so I needed some form of creative outlet to fill my soul, much the way dance did. Oh sure, I still take the weekly adult ballet class, but it’s not the same, you know? And that’s why I turned to creative writing.
Even though dancing is physically dynamic and literature is not, I think there are a lot of similarities. Dancing and writing are both beautiful forms of expression. When I used to perform, I poured just as much emotion into my dance as I do on the page. Writing allows me to dance with metaphors, tap out frustration, and let my words leap off the page. Words paint a picture to explain the story – dance movements do the same thing.
It’s the same with reading. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I often pick up a particular type of book because of the mood I’m in. And that’s how I feel in a dance class, too. Sometimes I’m in the mood for an intense barre workout. Sometimes a slow leisurely lyrical or adagio. But it always makes me happy, which is how I hope readers feel when they read my books – happy.
I love getting fan mail. It really is one of the most exciting things ever. And I especially love hearing from teenage dancers. I’ve had so many of them tell me they love my books and want me to write faster. My books are exactly the type I would have loved when I was that age. Too bad there were so few dance novels on the market then. I gobbled up the Satin Slippers series, but so much of what was available was either for toddlers or was non-fiction about the lives of famous ballerinas and choreographers or stories about the great ballets. Don’t get me wrong – those books are important, too. But sometimes you want the escapism that can only be found in the pages of fiction, and the reading experience is always so much richer when you relate to the characters.
There’s been a real explosion in dance fiction just in the last year, and I think it can be attributed to the popularity of shows like Dance Academy, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Moms, and now the CW’s Breaking Pointe and ABC Family’s Bunheads. The publishing industry is catching up with what we’ve known for a while now – dance is fun!
Want to win a pair (2) tickets to see a performance of the Nutcracker near you? Then watch the Pointe of No Return trailer to answer the question, “What ballet company allowed Amanda to use their photos in their trailer?” Email your answer to contactamandabrice (at) gmail (dot) com and you’re entered! It’s THAT simple.
DEADLINE: November 12, 2012.
Share details about the contest on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll receive 5 additional entries. Here’s the trailer:
BIO: Author Amanda Brice began her dance training in New Jersey with Voigt and Ceile Kempson and Nancy Volpe in the 22nd Century Jazz Ensemble. At Duke University, she studied ballet under M’Liss Dorrance and was a member of Blue Devil Ballroom Dance and the Duke Ballet Repertory Ensemble. Prior to attending law school, she danced with Georgetown Ballroom Dance.
These days she leads a double life. By day she’s an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency. At night she juggles raising two kids under the age of three with writing teen mystery novels. A popular speaker on the writers’ conference circuit with her workshops on basic copyright and trademark law, she is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and the president of Washington Romance Writers. Her novel Pointe of No Return is the November pick from the Washington Loves Romance online book club. Learn more at www.amandabrice.net.