Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel

Siena Cherson Siegel
Nonfiction Graphic Novel
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2006   ISBN: 978-0689867477

When she was just a little girl in Puerto Rico the doctor found out that Siena has flat feet. Siena and her mother thought that dance classes might help correct this problem and so Siena took classes. She quickly fell in love with dance and the flat feet were probably quite forgotten.

When she was nine her family went to live in Boston for a year and in addition to taking dance lessons Siena was able to see a Ballet performance in a theatre. Seeing The Dance of the Dying Swan for the first time convinced Siena that she wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up.

So Siena began to work towards that goal. Back in Puerto Rico she took ballet lessons. She took summer classes at the American Ballet Theatre in New York and when she was eleven she got into the American Ballet in New York. Her family moved to New York City so she could attend the school and with each passing year Siena spent more and more of her time in ballet lessons and rehearsals.

Siena steadily progressed up the ranks in the school and then, when she was eighteen, a severe ankle injury made it impossible for her to continue her ballet career. Instead she went to college and recast her life, finding new outlets for her creativity.

Thoughtfully and skillfully written, Siena’s dancer’s voice comes through very clearly in this excellent graphic novel. Readers will get a very real sense of what it is like to train to be a ballerina and to appreciate how much work is required to build a ballet dancer’s body. Siena is very candid and honest in her writing and her often poignant descriptions of her life will leave readers feeling touched by her very special story.

Siena’s husband’s superb artwork captures both the beauty and the pain in his wife’s dance story.