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Once Upon a Dance
Dancing Shapes
Dancing Shapes provides an inside glimpse into ballerina Konora’s journey. Konora, whose career has been sidelined by COVID-19, leads readers through warm-up steps, a basic ballet technique lesson, and an exploration of movement and form. With more than fifty poses to contemplate or replicate, aspiring young dancers: • learn basic ballet technique and vocabulary • develop an eye for detail • explore movement concepts • increase body awareness • strengthen spatial perception and balance • celebrate gratitude, the value of practice and making healthy choices.

Loved it! 😍

This is a visually stunning and interactive book that will inspire young dancers to get up and move.

Among the challenges that stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that people could no longer gather to practice or enjoy dancing. In direct response to this void, a professional dancer—dubbed Konora for the purposes of this book—and her mother created this interactive guide for displaced dancers.

Written specifically for young ballet dancers, this book is best suited for children aged six to nine. The narrative feels like a dance class, where readers are invited to participate throughout the book. One page in particular encourages dancers of all shapes, sizes, and genders to practice dancing and to attempt the shapes in the book as best they can. While the text may be difficult for young children to read independently, hearing it aloud will no doubt inspire them to get up and start moving. This story would benefit from an audio accompaniment, especially for children to experience the feeling of a dance class at any time within their home.

This book is presented in four sections, including an introduction to the character Konora with warm ups, followed by a description of primary ballet positions, then a section to encourage readers to think about the details of their movements, and a conclusion that thanks the reader for their hard work. A message to the reader at the beginning explains the design of the book, although the book would benefit from having a table of contents and an index for easier navigation.

Easily the most compelling component of this book is its visuals, beginning on the cover and dominating each page. Full color photographs of Konora in costume inspire children to dream of being a professional ballerina. Myriad photographs also feature Konora backlit to focus on her body position instead of what she is wearing. Dynamic body shapes can be challenging to replicate, but the presentation is accessible to children regardless of their abilities.

Young dancers will love having this reference at hand even once dance classes open again. Especially because this book teaches routines and practices to keep moving bodies safe, it is an important addition to a young ballet dancer’s home library.