Fiona Wada-Gill is like countless other American teenagers—she carefully balances activities and homework, is anxious to perform well in front of her family and friends, and is close with her siblings. But, unlike most her age, Fiona must also learn to strike the Mouse King with a slipper and soak in the wisdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
This is because Fiona has landed the role of Clara in the Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Fiona’s journey, from her audition through opening night in 2010, is told through the then-13-year-old’s eyes in Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story, Starring the Dancers of the Boston Ballet (Viking, Oct. 2012), co-authored by Lise Friedman, a former dancer and an adjunct professor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and photographer Mary Dowdle.
Written for children, but with messages for adults, and illustrated with candid photography that captures the immediacy of the young dancer’s life on- and offstage, Becoming a Ballerina conveys both the exhilaration brought on by achievement—“I got the part! I’m Clara!” Fiona exclaims—and the sacrifices that accompany success.
“I don’t get to hang out after school or on weekends, because I’m always in class or rehearsal,” she says. “I miss going to birthday parties and the movies, being in school talent shows, sleepovers—normal stuff.”
But to Fiona, whose sisters also land roles in the performance, it’s all worth it.
“Being officially a dancer meant that I had to quit almost all my other afterschool activities,” she tells the reader. “I wish we had 48 hours or more a day. But if we did, I would probably end up using all the time for ballet, because I love it so much.”
Friedman, a former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and a parent, can discuss a range of topics raised by the book, including the life and career of a professional dancer and the role of parents in managing children’s ambitions.
Friedman was the editor of the award-winning quarterly Dance Ink and is the author of First Lessons in Ballet and, with Dowdle, Break a Leg! The Kids’ Guide to Acting and Stagecraft. She has also authored Alvin Ailey Dance Moves! and, with her sister, Ceil Friedman, Letters to Juliet Celebrating Shakespeare’s Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love.
Reporters interested in speaking with Friedman should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For review copies, contact Tara Shanahan at 212.414.3671 or email@example.com.
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