Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ballroom! by Sharon Savoy

Ballroom dancers all over the world dream of competing - and winning - at Blackpool. It's one of the most prestigious dance competitions in the world, and only a few dancers have ever had the experience of winning. In Ballroom! Obsession and Passion inside the World of Competitive Dance, Exhibition dancer Sharon Savoy takes readers behind the scenes of the Blackpool competition and right into a high-pressure world of competitive dance.

I've been clamouring for a teen novel (or even adult novel) set in the world of ballroom dance, so when I had a chance to read this book, even though it is non-fiction, I jumped at the opportunity. I have to confess that I didn't know anything about Sharon Savoy or her dance career, or anything about exhibition or adagio dancing. I am a big figure skating fan, though, so I had a bit of background when she was talking about lifts, moves, and dance styles, as well as sport politics. Rather than being a memoir that spans an in-depth look at her entire career, it focuses in on the Blackpool experience in 1990. This book is one that I think benefits from the existence of youtube, because after I read it I could go and look up several of Sharon Savoy's dances, including the Bolero number that she details in the book. This enhanced my reading experience tremendously. There were a few points where I wished for a bit more editing (usually to clear up unclear passages), such as at the beginning of chapter four where there is an awkward transition from talking about gay men to "real men" (I hope as opposed to boys). This story, though, could not have been told by a professional writer, as it needed Savoy's experience and observations to make it the story that it was.

Find this book at University of Florida Press.

Read it with:
Ice Dancing by Nicholas Walker
Ballroom Dancing by Paul Bottomer
The Blackpool Highflyer by Andrew Martin
Let's Dance! by Cal Pozo

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