Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School.
"Enthralling...irresistible." ––New York Times
"A standing ovation to this debut." ––E! News
Thirteen years ago, Delphine Léger abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now thirty-six years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she's been away...and some secrets can't stay buried forever.
Moving between the trio's adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won't see coming, with a magnetic cast of characters you won't soon forget.
Kapelke-Dale (Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults, with Jessica Pan) makes her fiction debut with a well-crafted thriller. When dancer Delphine returns to Paris after 13 years in Saint Petersburg to choreograph Tsarina for the Paris Opera Ballet, she desperately wants to reconnect with Margaux and Lindsay, her best friends from their ballet academy. Delphine has a secret, something she and Margaux did that ruined Lindsay's life 14 years earlier. Delphine casts soloist Lindsay in Tsarina's title role in an effort to make things right, but no matter how hard Delphine works, Tsarina falls apart. When Lindsay intentionally kicks her understudy in the face during rehearsals, Delphine is forced to fire her. To salvage the ballet, Delphine shifts her focus to Jock, an old flame playing the role of Rasputin. The more time Delphine spends with Jock, the more she realizes she and Margaux aren't the only ones with secrets, and a potential scandal threatens to destroy the Paris Opera Ballet. Kapelke-Dale nicely explores the power of female friendship, a woman's relationship with her body, and what it truly means to be seen. This one's for fans of Megan Abbott's The Turnout.
A Heartfelt Story
Delphine had a history with the Paris Opera Ballet School where she was a dancer and now after many years away, she has returned as an choreographer. She was always in the shadows of her mother’s success as a dancer. Would she be able to meet her mother’s expectations for success? Even after her mother died, her mother’s success was always on the back of her mind.
What Delphine is now realizing working there as a choreographer is that sometimes different cultural aspects of the school never changes. The friendships that dancers make will be life long, but the drama and competition that comes with it can be brutal. Will Delphine be able to make changes to the school, so that it not only gives opportunities to the young dancers, but also gives opportunities to older dancers? Or will she be up against tradition where the chance of change is no hope? This book follows her experiences from Dancer to Choreographer. What a realistic story of friendship, heartbreak, jealousy, and success on what it takes to be a dancer and choreographer. It is a book that is perfect for all those who have danced or have the love of ballet!
I loved 🥲
This book is definitely a book that is good for that dark academia ballerina vibe too it. I love all of the characters and the character development that they all experience. I also love the history behind all of them and just the beautifulness of Paris. The added parts of women empowerment made me read the book even faster if possible. Such and amazing book, and storyline. I WANTED TO LIVE THIS BOOK (rip to Lindsey)
This book honestly makes me thankful that I didn’t continue a dance career after injuring my knee at 16. I’ve always loved dance (jazz & lyrical) and now that I’m older, a fascination and love for ballet. So naturally, I was very excited to see a ballet book to read! But man, being a ballerina is hard. Constantly worrying about body image and taking down the competition no matter who it is, would be exhausting. But ballet is beautiful with its lyrical movement and costumes; it takes sacrifice to do beautiful things.
Kapelke-Dale writes realistic characters given their life situations. She makes you want to root for Delphine to figure herself out and succeed in anything she wants to do. There is definitely a feminist tone to the whole book where women take back their control from not very likable male characters. But that’s pretty much the point. Struggling, failing, and then succeeding. So is life. It’s a book you want to keep reading and find it hard to put down! Also, everyone needs a Stella in their life.
*I do think there should be a trigger warning for abortion. Baby loss is so significant these days that it’s only fair to the readers to know upfront.*