Fiction Fest: Another peek at Nancy Lorenz’ ‘The Strength of Ballerinas’

The-Strength-of-Ballerinas-2x3-WEBNancy Lorenz, author of ‘The Strength of Ballerinas,’ held her book launch party at the Burbank, California, Barnes & Noble on Sept. 9, complete with real life ballerinas and refreshments.

We all couldn’t make it to southern California for the special event, but here’s a couple of pictures to get a feel for what the party was like.

ballerinanancy's launch party

For your reading pleasure, here’s a sneak peek into “The Strength of Ballerinas,” which is now available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

From the author: This excerpt shows both the child inside of Kendra Sutton, as well as the more mature dancer she is blossoming into. It also demonstrates the wear and tear of ballet on a young girl’s body and mind. Kendra is resolute to push through the pain to succeed. It is the price she has to pay for perfection. But is it worth it?

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In the morning, I woke up with dry, puffy eyes, with my eyelashes stuck together from old tears. I reached for my right eye, which I couldn’t quite open, and cleared it from the sleep of morning.

A light breeze blew through my bedroom window and hit the mobile that hung from the ceiling. As I gazed up at the pink figures bouncing above me in the air, ballerinas once again danced before my eyes. The mobile was from the 1970s. It was a relic that belonged to my mother, and even though it was babyish, the mobile was a piece of my mother that I just couldn’t give up.

“Give it to your own child when you grow up,” she’d said, but the mobile was already falling apart. The leg of one of the figures was ripped from wear, and another ballerina’s arm was permanently bent in a backward port de bras. I had watched this childish mobile pirouette and glide ever since I could remember. It was the morning dance that greeted me every day of my life.

The alarm shocked me wide-awake and I got up like a shot.

A few minutes later in the bathroom, I peeled away the bandages on each of my wrapped toes. The blood-stained bandages on the floor were battle scars. My toes hurt like heck, but I’d broken in new pointe shoes yesterday. Although I’d massaged, bent, banged, and practically bit them to soften them up, walking on demi pointe for hours still made my feet feel like they were going to die, But it was necessary evil.

Once, a girl in my English class asked me why I had to beat up my brand-new ballet shoes. She didn’t know. Outsiders thought that ballet was all pretty tutus and music, but it took hours and hours of perspiration in classes and rehearsal until I was ready to drop from exhaustion and pain . . . lots and lots of pain.

But the rewards were exquisite! To attain that moment of executing the perfect step in perfect timing with the music and the lights in a performance . . . To reach that total immersion of your being in the dance despite the pain in your feet . . . That was when the magic of ballet truly happened.

My feet would hurt later in class, though.

Before showering, I filled the tub with a mixture of scented body wash and some antibacterial ointment. Cringing, I dipped one foot in, then the other. The apple pomegranate scent of the body wash made me ignore the sting of the ointment that shot through my red-patched feet.   I had to do it to prevent infection. I bore the pain internally, sitting on the side of the tub, looking down at my reddened feet amid the bubbles.

I poured too much body wash into the tub, but at least my feet would smell good. I tried to laugh, but the joke didn’t make me feel better. As I wiggled my toes in the soapy water, I knew that my perfectionism drove me too far.

The whole point of all this pain was to get into Manhattan Dance, but how would I ever get into the company now if we had to move to California?