Friday Reads Review: The Cranes Dance

There’s something about dance, isn’t there? Something about watching a person in such complete control of their body. There’s such dedication in every movement, even though they make it look effortless.

I’ve had dance on the brain ever since I started reading The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey. It follows Kate Crane, a member of a prestigious ballet company in New York. For those of us on the outside, watching her on stage as she dances a solo would make it seem as though she’s perfect. But for Kate, life is a constant battle.

This isn’t just one of those behind-the-scenes books about ballet. If you find it as fascinating as I do, you probably won’t be surprised by the horrors that lurk inside those toe shoes. Or the competition that goes on among even the most talented and successful dancers.

Image via Goodreads

Kate narrates us through her life, a breathless whir of practice and performing. Kate has recently lost her boyfriend and her sister, Gwen. Though Gwen is Kate’s younger sister, she’s been more successful in the company. She’s gone back home to live with their parents, everyone in the company believes she’s injured but Kate knows the truth: Gwen had a nervous breakdown.

Still weighed down with her sister’s presence and constantly fighting a neck injury, Kate fights to make her way through the end of the season. It’s a physical and a mental battle and it may decide whether Kate continues to have a career in ballet.

For those of us who find dance fascinating, this book doesn’t disappoint. There is all the closeness and competition of a company, the choreography of several different ballets and the rigor of diet and physical strengthening.

If you’ve never had much of an interest in ballet, you’ll probably change your mind when you see it from the other side. Instead of some lovely looking ladies in tutus, Kate lets you in on the injuries and jealousies that happen backstage. The beaten up feet and the bottles of Vicodin. The drama is high and you don’t have to know what an arabesque is to enjoy it.

I admit I’ve been on a serious ballet kick thanks to this book. I watched Mikhail Baryshnikov in White Nights and The Turning Point. (Both on Netflix Streaming!) I have Mao’s Last Dancer all queued up. I’d also recommend Black Swan, The Red Shoes and Robert Altman’s The Company. I didn’t realize I had such a ballet thing!

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey will be available on May 15, 2012. You can pre-order at your local bookstore or at any online store. Or if audiobooks are your thing you can also find an audio copy.

Thanks to Netgalley and Vintage for giving me an e-galley for this review.


  1. JoLee says

    Did you watch First Position on Netflix? It’s a documentary about young ballet dancers and their major competition that earns them scholarships and company positions. It was really interesting. I’d recommend it if you are still on your ballet kick.

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