What do Cinderella and a vampire have in common?
They both dance! In advance of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s Ballet FUNdamentals: Cinderella coming on April 6, I read not only Cinderella but stumbled upon Anne Marie Pace’s Vampirina Ballerina.
If you want to be a dancer, Pace says, you have to work at it. You have to find the right class, and listen to the teacher and keep your mouth closed. It helps to get a good day–er, night’s–sleep. Most of all, you have to practice and practice, even if you miss a step. After all, a mistake is not a reflection on your talent. And before you know it, you’ll be a ballerina.
The humor between the text and illustration is cleverly understated. Most of the text is played straight, but when you look at the illustrations, your mouth quirks up at the way her advice to aspiring dancers puns with vampire lore. Vampirina is the most adorable vampire I’ve ever seen, wide-eyed and biting her lip nervously (and carefully). Her headstone, er, headboard, quotes Auden’s “Dance til you drop” (from his poem “Death’s Echo”–nice touch). Her family, apparently quite artistic themselves, are supportive, providing musical accompaniment and hemming her costume (spider lace, of course).
The difference between humans and vampires might be night and day, but not in dance. Being a dancer is hard and special work even if you don’t cast a shadow.
Hope to see you on April 6!