Last Dance

Iron Circus. Nov. 2020. 190p. pap. $12. ISBN 9781945820724.
Gr 4-6–A career-ending injury leaves Miriam, a white teen prima ballerina, desperate to regain her former glory. After her release from the hospital and a failed attempt to dance on her injured leg, she discovers a hidden room behind the studio’s mirrored walls—and a shadowy spirit who offers to help Miriam regain her abilities and gives her a pair of ballet shoes that heal her injury, in exchange for a price (“For years I’ve watched ballerinas through this room. I wish to join them through you.”). But Miriam is now a mere company dancer; newcomer Lorelei, who is brown-skinned, is chosen as the prima ballerina. The shadow spirit assures an enraged Miriam that it will help her reclaim her former role. However, it becomes apparent that the spirit is drawing the power to heal Miriam from Lorelei and from another ballerina, Suzanne, who is Black, and Miriam must choose between her friendships and her ambitions. Using loose, fluid lines, Schroy creates beautiful dance sequences and captivating images of traditional ballet poses entwined with musical notes and, in some cases, the spirit’s shadows and the ribbons from the enchanted shoes. There is also a glossary of ballet terms at the back of the book. However, aside from Miriam, none of the other characters are fully developed. Also, it’s hard to ignore that white Miriam enthusiastically endangers two dancers of color to achieve her own goals.
VERDICT Light on horror, heavy on personal responsibility in the cutthroat world of ballet.

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