Silver Shoes (series)
And All That Jazz
Hit the Streets
Random House, 2014
pbk., 144pp., RRP $A14.99
Silver Shoes Dance Studio is a dance academy where 10 year-old Eleanor Irvin and her friends go three or four times a week to learn to dance. Jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, ballroom, lyrical – whatever the style it’s on offer and each girl has her favourite genre. For Eleanor it’s jazz and in the first in this new series And All That Jazz, the focus is on an up-coming competition where the studio not only competes against other studios but the girls also compete against each other in the individual section. Eleanor is very passionate about dance – “Sure, a dance can only go for a few minutes but you create bit of magic in that time. The dance has these little fingers that go reaching out to find all the little happys that make one big happy- one tiny moment that’s somehow full of all these good things” – and at times her intensity gets in the way of her relationships, particularly with newcomer Ashley who has joined Silver Shoes from its arch rival Dance Art.
Hit the Streets focuses on Ashley’s desire to learn hip-hop but as she gradually convinces the Silver Shoes girls that she’s not a spy for Dance Art, she hits some personal problems that threaten to crush her dreams. There was a hint of there being more to Ashley’s story than meets the eye in And All That Jazz and readers now learn what that is.
This is a great new series for this age group that loves to dance and Miss 8 enjoyed these first two episodes immensely. With each girl having their particular passion (in Breaking Pointe Riley loves ballet and in ballroom dancing is the focus of Paige’s story in Dance till you Drop –both out in April) the series has a broader appeal. The characters are very real – they could be any little 10-year-old girl you know and they’re not always likeable. Eleanor makes a point of trying to paint Jasmine (Jas-mean) black but there were times when she could have been holding a mirror to herself – and that’s the nature of this age group as they dart to negotiate independent friendships and relationships. It is also made clear that dancing is not all glitter and glam and pretty costumes – the thing that often attracts in the first place – and that it involves hard work and long hours and learning that you’re not always going to win. There are insights and lessons here that aren’t necessarily dance-focused. Not only does the author’s expertise in dance show through but also her knowledge of this age group.
Each book has a bio of its main character as well as instructions for how to perform a particular move and a full glossary. Even though dance of some sort is the second most popular sport in Australia with over 4 000 000 participants, not all who would like to get the opportunity to dance, so this series will at least fuel their dreams.
Click here for a review of the next two in the series.