• Mary Lanni

Author Feature: Once Upon a Dance

Updated: Mar 31

For most of my life I was a dancer, beginning with ballet, jazz, and tap and transitioning full force into Irish dance when I saw Riverdance for the first time at 12 years old. After touring professionally and teaching for well over a decade, life shifted for me, though dance still holds a special place in my heart.

So, when I discovered the great work of Once Upon a Dance through Reedsy, I was thrilled to get to read their stories that bring dance into the home of every reader. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many dance schools and performing companies were forced to shut their doors in the interest of safety. Ballerina Konora, the dancer around whom each of these lovely stories revolves, had to leave her role in the Nutcracker and she and her mother decided to create this series of stories. From picture books to non-fiction, each of these stories encourages movement and discovery for dancers of all types. Please check out my reviews below and connect with Once Upon a Dance to support struggling dance communities!

Dancing Shapes

For dancers struggling being away from the studio because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this is an excellent written supplement to their practice. Encouraging and accessible in its delivery, young dancers will appreciate the support the narrator Konora provides throughout this story. Full color photographs and inspiring models make this a visually compelling addition to libraries for young dancers. Please see my full review here!

Joey Finds His Jump

The first in the Dance-It-Out creative movement series by Once Upon a Dance, this story blends a traditional picture book structure with movement. Joey the kangaroo is sad because he does not know how to jump, so he goes in search of something that might teach him. Readers of all ages learn the power of perseverance through this story and will love the beautiful illustrations. Please see my full review here.

More Dancing Shapes

This book is a natural extension of the original Dancing Shapes book, inviting readers to try new shapes along with Ballerina Konora through images and written instructions. For those who have read the first book, there is a game to try to locate images that are the same from one to the other; however, this book stands easily on its own, as well. Young dancers who are ready to experiment with the ways their bodies can move will love adding this book to their libraries. Please see my full review here.

Nutcracker Dancing Shapes

Ballerina Konora has been in Nutcracker performances since she began dancing as a young girl. She has compiled her experiences into this colorful story that explains the variations on the Nutcracker story and introduces dance movements to try at home. Please see my full review here.

Petunia Perks Up

It’s been a while since Princess Petunia has been able to see her friends. Lots of rain has kept her inside, which means that she needs to find ways to occupy herself within her indoor space. This movement-centered book encourages interpretation of the story through dance, giving readers an outlet for both creative exploration and meditation. Please see my full review here.

Do you know another great series I should feature in my blog? Please message me here and let me know!

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© 2020 by Mary Lanni