Southern California-based author Nancy Lorenz’s debut novel, “The Strength of Ballerinas,” won’t hit the market until Sept. 9, but you’ve come to the right place to get a peek at the book before it’s placed on your local bookstore’s shelves.
About the book: All Kendra wants to do is dance for the Manhattan Dance Company. So when her family’s forced to move to California, her dreams of auditioning are shattered. Still determined to dance, Kendra faces social isolation and family pressures in her new home. But when she’s diagnosed with a debilitating illness, Kendra must decide which dreams are worth fighting for.
From the author: It’s just an ordinary day in the life of elite ballet student, Kendra Sutton. After her dance class finishes, she watches the professional dancers of the Manhattan Dance Company rehearse. Kendra, along with her friend, Liz, admire them, and both dream of their chance to dance in the company, too.
I was out of breath again, and the sweat poured down my back now, soaking my leotard, but I remembered my Spartan mentality. Endure. I went round one more time. Resist! I rounded another. “Nineteen,” I whispered. “Achieve!” I forced one more grand fouetté out of my body, then ended—not with a slump like the others, but with a pose with extended arms.
“That,” Miss Irina stated, “is prima quality. See how Kendra ends with finesse and closure?” Some of the girls grimaced, including nasty Sara Harrington; others heaved a heavy sigh of defeat.
“Dismissed!” Miss Irina exclaimed. “See you tomorrow, darlinks.” We all clapped for the end of class, with Liz clapping a little bit harder, just for spite, and then we exited the practice room, making way for the company dancers that crossed us on the way out.
“Miss Irina hates you, I swear!” I threw my arm around Liz’s neck for comfort.
“Better get your degree in Phys Ed. while you can.” Sara Harrington flung her pink, sweaty towel at Liz and laughed as she pranced away. “Soooo gone,” she shouted. She laughed all the way down the hall to the dressing room.
“Witch number two.” We both laughed at Sara’s unnecessary meanness.
“Miss Irina has it in for me. But if I don’t make apprentice, my father’s going to withdraw his $5,000 annual donation to the Manhattan Dance Company.”
“She’s hard on you because she knows you can do it.” It was partly true. Liz was an excellent dancer, but Miss Irina still enjoyed picking on her.
“I’ll know you have it when you do the dance of death, darlinks,”Liz said, imitating Miss Irina. It was spectacularly accurate, and we both giggled.
“I can’t wait to dance in the company,” I said as I watched the company dancers line up at the barre.
“I can’t wait to dance with him.” Liz stared as Andrei walked by. “Me and Andrei . . .”
“Romance is out of the question,” I whispered. “You can never be a perfect dancer if
you let love interfere with your art.”
“Oh, you’re so Red Shoes.” Liz turned back to the company as they entered the roomthat we just left.
“No one will interfere with my ballet. And nothing will stop me. Nothing.” I grewserious.
“You’re obsessed.” Liz watched intently as Andrei took off his sweatshirt.
“So are you.”
“For a different reason.” Liz gasped as Andrei took the barre to warm up.
“Well, I’ll take The Red Shoes any day. Art before all.” I watched along with Liz as the rest of the company entered the dance studio with their flat duck walk. The professional dancers threw their dance bags in the corner and began stretching at the barre. I watched with fascination as the stars of the Manhattan Dance Company’s ballet corps readied for class, just like Liz and I had done. On the floor, the company looked almost awkward, just like anybody else. On pointe, however, they became glorious, ethereal spirits.