A teenage ballet dancer struggles to find her next step, and her place in the world, in this exquisite graphic memoir—a follow-up to the Sibert Honor–winning To Dance.
All her life, Siena has dreamed of being a ballerina. Her love of movement and dedication to the craft earned her a spot at the School of American Ballet, with hopes of becoming a member of George Balanchine’s world-famous New York City Ballet company. Siena has worked hard for many years to be a professional ballet dancer, but injury and doubt are starting to take their toll.
Maybe it’s time to look beyond the world of dance—but Siena’s whole identity has been shaped by ballet. When you have spent your entire life working toward something, how do you figure out what comes next? And how do you figure out who you are without the thing that defined you? This is a moving and beautifully drawn memoir of a dancer struggling to find her next step—and a young woman finding her true footing in the world.
The husband-and-wife team behind graphic memoir To Dance returns with another rich tale, delving into Siena's experiences at the School of American Ballet in the late 1970s and early '80s. Opening with young Siena's cartwheels on the beach in her native Puerto Rico, the author recounts her acceptance to SAB at 12 and moving to Manhattan with her mother, whose ethnicity is unspecified, as her Cuban-born father stays in San Juan, and her beloved older brother attends boarding school and then college in Boston. Siena grows increasingly passionate about ballet classes, rehearsals, and performances; by 15, dance inspires "majestic," "radiant" feelings. Siegel movingly describes these joys as well as the despair of growing too tall for certain roles, and a dancer's ultimate nightmare: injury. As "all the joy of dancing was seeping out of me," Siena must decide how to reroute her life. Siegel's digital drawings done in a cool-toned blue and purple palette add gravity to Siena's journey, emphasizing dynamism and shifting emotions. Ballet lovers and aspiring and established dancers will particularly appreciate this deep dive into the ballet world, and revel in the faithful renderings of dancers including some legendary figures at work, at ease, and performing. Ages 12 up. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre Literary.