As a ballet-obsessed youth who also loved to read, the best combination of the two loves was a ballet-related book, and thankfully there were many.
But, my hands-down favourite was a series by Jean Estoril, about a ballet dancer called Andrina Adamo, or ‘Drina’ for short. The series of 11 books follows Drina from childhood when she first discovers ballet, and the fact that her mother (who died when Drina was a baby) was a famous ballerina, Elizabeth Ivory; and takes us through to Drina as a 21 year old, getting to dance the lead role in a full-length ballet for her beloved Dominick Ballet Company. Throughout the series there is a lot of ballet for Drina, along with romance, and travel, and fights with friends, and jealous rivals, and a disapproving Grandmother to contend with, and I loved all of the books and read them over and over again, (except for Drina Goes to Switzerland, which I’ve actually never read it, since copies are hard to come by). But my favourite of them all was the final book of the series, Drina Ballerina, and watching Alice last week had that book in particular on my mind.
In the final book Drina has the opportunity to perform in a ballet that she had also choreographed. She first put it together in ‘Switzerland’ (the one I never read), but now that she’s back in London, and a proper member of the company, the Directors of the company ask her to put it on again. It’s called Rhapsody in New York and is set in Central Park on a summer afternoon, with dancers in casual clothes, and a Pas de Deux by a park bench. The book paints a pretty picture of the dance, and, as with all of the ballets that Estoril invented for her books, it’s one I wish was real so that I might see it myself, and then, low and behold, there I sat last week watching the final scene of Alice where we were treated to a final Pas de Deux between Alice and Jack, her in a floaty summer dress, he in jeans, t-shirt and trainers, all set beside a park bench.
Just like a wee taste of Rhapsody in New York.
In summary: dancing Drina.