Thursday, April 23, 2015

To Dance, To Dream by Maxine Drury

Maxine Drury's To Dance, To Dream was written fifty years ago. When I first read it, almost that long ago, I fell in love with the stories of ballet and the remarkable stars of the ballet. Reading it again, a gift from my sister, Linda, the book still has the power to move me. Now, a couple of the stories of more recent stars seem incomplete, but at the time I read it, those dancers were still active. Time has moved on for a few of the stories, but each one brings the history of ballet to life.

That's exactly what To Dance, To Dream is, a history of ballet as told through the lives of some of the major dancers and choreographers who changed it. Drury's Foreword says, "These are the men and women who have helped to transform the dance from what it was three hundred years ago to what it is today." These are the biographies of Isadora Duncan, Michel Fokine, Anna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn, Maria Tallchief. Drury writes of ten artists who changed ballet.

I was struck by the fact that Drury's book, part of the Real Life Stories series, was designed for children, but it definitely was not written down to children. It didn't make light of the loneliness, hard work, rivalries, and poverty that often came with dancing. It was honest about Isadora Duncan's death. And, all these years after reading it for the first time, I still cried over Anna Pavlova's death.

I never read the other books published in this series. Those also sound fascinating; REAL LIFE STORIES about detectives and lawmen, Famous Investigators; famous nurses, Nurses Who Led the Way; World War I, The Great War. There were a couple other books as well. If they were as well-written as this one, I'm sorry I missed them. I'm still impressed with the remarkable biographies that were available to children who grew up forty to fifty years ago, so well-done that we still remember those Childhood of Famous Americans books and this REAL LIFE STORIES series. I was so lucky that my sister could find this memory, To Dance, To Dream, for me.

To Dance, To Dream by Maxine Drury. Whitman Publishing Company. 1965. (hardcover), 212p.

FTC Full Disclosure - My sister gave me this as a gift.


Nann said...

It is such a treat to come across a book that meant so much at a formative age. I vaguely remember this one, too -- as well as Noel Streatfeild's "shoes" books.

Lesa said...

Nann, I never even heard of Noel Streatfeild's "shoes" books until I watched You've Got Mail. I need to see if I can find a copy of Ballet Shoes.

Linda said...

I am glad you still enjoy it!

Lesa said...

Just as much as ever, Linda!

Reine said...

I never read this book but read all the biographies our little libraries and bookmobiles had to offer children. Each time I moved and had to go to a new school I checked first to see if there was a library. Then I'd look for the shelf with the biographies. You could see them from a distance. Some school years that was all I read. They had a way of making their subjects approachable while inspiring in a down to earth way. All seemed to overcome struggles that made my own feel doable.

Lesa said...

Reine, I'm so glad the libraries and those biographies were a refuge and an inspiration for you. Just wonderful biographies back when we grew up.