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Dancing on the Inside

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Ever since her grandparents gave her a DVD of "Swan Lake," twelve-year old Jenny Spark has wanted to be a dancer. But on her first day of ballet class, she suffers a panic attack and makes a horrifying discovery. She's terrified of dancing in front of the other kids, and as for actually performing for an audience? Forget it. Yet Jenny refuses to give up her dream. With determination and a little ingenuity, she finds ways to observe ballet classes without actually participating. She trains in the safety of her room, while hiding the truth from her parents. Then Jenny meets her exact opposite: Ara Reyes, an outgoing, spontaneous, and accident-prone girl who loves dancing but has always been overlooked.

The girls' friendship blossoms as they help each other uncover their real talents. Ara's dancing takes a leap forward and Jenny discovers she has an amazing gift for choreography. With the support of the school's newest teacher, Jenny's original ballet might just make it on stage ... but will she?

Charming and inspiring, "Dancing on the Inside" shows how pursuing our passions can often lead to wonderful and unexpected results.

236 pages, Paperback

First published July 5, 2011

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About the author

Glen C. Strathy

2 books83 followers
Glen C. Strathy started writing stories when he was 11 years old and too shy to have a life. He eventually found a life when he started acting in community theatre and met other writers, actors, dancers, and artists. He discovered that the best thing about performing arts (and other arts too) is that they give people more freedom to be who they want to be. After spending time as an actor, teacher, and freelance writer, he has finally returned to his first love, fiction. Dancing on the Inside is his first juvenile novel.

Glen C. Strathy earned an M.A. in English from the University of Western Ontario, and graduated from the Artist in Community Education program at Queen's University, Kingston. He co-authored two non-fiction books and belongs to the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC). His website www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com provides advice to budding authors.

Glen lives with his wife, fellow writer Kaitlin Rainey, and their daughter in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Literary.
1,035 reviews149 followers
January 30, 2016
A lovely story of Jenny, a young girl who has a desire to learn ballet but struggles with her fear of being in the spotlight. She learns to embrace her inner talent and builds confidence while making new friendships along the way. She easily captures your heart. A must read for inspiring ballerinas!
Profile Image for Kelsey.
17 reviews49 followers
September 24, 2011
This is a great book about finding--and fighting to do--something you love, despite the obstacles. Jenny's crippling shyness would make a career like ballet seem out of the question, but she doesn't let it stop her, practicing in secret instead and, for the first time, acting against her parents' wishes. Her unlikely friendship with the bubbly, outgoing Ara works beautifully. I love how "friendship" in this book goes beyond two people with shared interests enjoying each other's company. Ara and Jenny's opposite personalities actually complement each other and help bring the girls closer together. Ara gives Jenny that extra boost she needs when she's about to give up on dancing altogether, and Jenny helps pull Ara back down to earth when she gets a bit too carried away. Neither changes the other, but they each become a better person for it.

Another aspect I loved about Dancing on the Inside was the glimpse it provided into the behind the scenes life of ballet. The information didn't feel overwhelming, nor did it interrupt the flow of the story, but it gave me enough to form a vibrant picture.
The book sends an encouraging message to anyone aspiring in the arts. In spite of Jenny's ongoing fear of being seen dancing, she manages to find a creative solution to do what she really loves.

My thanks to First Reads and to the author, Glen C. Strathy, for providing me with this copy! I would recommend this for preteens or even young adults. The wording's simple enough for a young audience, but I (a nineteen-year-old) didn't feel like it was talking down to me, and the storyline held my attention.
If you're interested in reading other books about dance and haven't already read these, I'd highly recommend Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes, and Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.
Profile Image for Bluerose's  Heart.
532 reviews28 followers
November 18, 2011
"Social phobia: Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have debilitating effects on personal and professional relationships.

The symptoms and signs of social phobia include blushing, sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, nausea or other stomach discomfort, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of anxiety".

I've suffered with social phobia my entire life, so when I discovered Dancing on the Inside was about a young girl with social phobia, I knew I had to read it. Jenny is the main character, and she really wants to dance ballet. Dancing on the Inside is her journey of discovering what she can do to deal with her phobia.

I really wish this book was around when I was younger. I didn't understand that I had a social phobia. I just thought I was really weird, and it was a struggle. It still is!!!!!! It is HARD living with social phobia! (And for the record, I was NOT home-schooled. I went to public school). If you know a young girl who you think even might be suffering with social phobia, PLEASE get her this book. It won't take the phobia away, but it will help her know that she's not alone. Simply understanding what's wrong and that there are others with the same problem is help all by itself. I honestly don't know if social phobia can be "cured", though.

Social Phobia goes way beyond being shy. It's important to know that people with social phobia are completely normal on the inside!! We're just as unique and quirky and fun as all the outgoing people out there. Our bodies just don't allow us to express who we really are when we're out in public or around people other than close family and friends, and many times not even then. It's very frustrating! Dancing on the Inside gives you a very tiny glimpse of what it's like for someone with social phobia.

The rest of my review is here.......http://bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/20...
Profile Image for Tillie.
38 reviews22 followers
August 24, 2011
Such a cute book. It was a very quick read and honestly I couldn't put it down. I relate a lot to Jenny. I was the shy one in junior high/high school. The one who wanted to be great at things, but was afraid to fail. The one who didn't realize the talent I had. I think this is a must read for any teen/pre-teen who is shy and has a dream. The ending of the story was so sweet and I think that ballet really needs to be produced :)
Profile Image for Heavensent1.
253 reviews23 followers
November 15, 2011
Dancing On The Inside is a Children's Book for ages 9 - 12.

Twelve year old Jenny Spark has wanted to be a ballerina since her grandparents gave her a DVD of "Swan Lake". However, Jenny is very shy and suffers from anxiety attacks whenever she is in a crowd.

Hiding under the piano on her first day of ballet lessons, she watches the rest of the kids practice. Rose comes up with a plan so that she doesn't have to participate but can watch and secretly teach herself the moves at home.

When her parents catch her lying, Jenny is denied permission to continue with her lessons. Not to be deterred, Jenny asks to volunteer at the dance school, which will enable her to continue with her dream without having to have everyone looking at her.

When Jenny meets Ara, a beautiful dancer without any grace, the two offer guidance and support to each other. Ara agrees to make Jenny more open and Jenny agrees to help Ara become more disciplined. After the two choreograph a ballet, their fates are set in motion and Jenny becomes to believe she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Will she continue to dream of being a ballerina or will she give in to her self-conscious and walk away from her pointes forever?

I thought this was a very delightful read. I thought the characters of Jenny and Ara were wonderful and encouraging to read. Jenny's drive and determination to see her goals appear fruitful was interesting to read. I loved how she overcame her obstacles with mature and organized thoughts and plans.

I did not like Jenny's mother. I found that she was very discouraging and sometimes added to her daughters anxiety. I could see that she felt just because she was a failure with her dreams, that Jenny would be also, and Jenny has carried that with her throughout life. I didn't like the arguments that her mother shared, nor how she came across as obstinate and controlling. Jenny's father was much more understanding and acceptable of his daughters dreams.

I liked how Jenny worked through the antagonists in the book. She was always working to include everyone and in the end it appears everything will work out, however, there are many set backs and emotions shared that will leave the reader wondering if Jenny will make her dreams come true.

I would give Dancing On The Inside a four and a half stars out of five, I truly did not enjoy the mother, her dialogue wasn't impressive and her interaction with her daughter came across as cold and stiff. This was a truly enjoyable read, especially for the positive message the author is trying to share and encourage. I could see this go into a series as we watch all the girls come to terms with their lives and their careers, watching them grow through the dance school and beyond.
Profile Image for Diane.
555 reviews8 followers
August 4, 2016
I read this book all in one sitting. This is aimed at young to mid-teens so it was an easy read for me. The heroine of the story is Jenny, a very shy 12 year old who really wants to dance ballet but discovers that she's too shy, too insecure and has a panic attack at the idea of trying to learn to dance with anyone else watching. She loves ballet so much, however, that she connives a way to be allowed to observe the classes. She takes notes and practices alone at home in secret.

Ara is quite the opposite of Jenny. She's outgoing and spontaneous. She loves to dance too and is unafraid and passionate. She and Jenny become friends and help each other become better dancers on their own. Through this, Jenny discovers that she has a real talent for choreography and with the help of the new instructor, the girls work together to put on the spring recital, an original ballet.

The book is the first work of fiction written by the author and I really enjoyed it. The story flowed well, kept my interest and brought the world of ballet to life for me. Jenny and Ara did seem a bit too mature for 12 year olds in some ways but as the book is aimed at that general age range, I think their personalities and dreams would appeal very much to girls just starting to edge past childhood. I'd certainly recommend it.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,782 reviews289 followers
December 13, 2011
I've always loved Dancing movies and have been a huge fan of films like Centre Stage and Step Up , in a way this book reminded me of Centre Stage 2: Turn It Up as the main character Jenny ever since watching the DVD of Swan Lake has dreamed of becoming a famous dancer , though unfortunately for Jenny she suffers from stage fright- an awful thing when all you want to do in the world is perform in front of thousands of people. Though Jenny faces all these obstacles , she does not let that stop her from becoming a dancer as she is determined to become the best she can be and one day dance to her own Swan Lake. Jenny decides to observe and learn to dance the way she is comfortable in doing this she meets a fellow dancer Ara and soon the two girls strike up a wonderful friendship. This is the perfect novel for not only girls who love ballet , but as it talks about friendship and overcoming your fears and not letting them stand in your way of doing what you love :). It makes a nice change to from all those Rainbow Magic , Tiara Club and Go Girl books that many young girls are reading at the moment.
Profile Image for Wendy Hines.
1,322 reviews257 followers
January 15, 2012
Dancing on the Inside is a great young adult read. Moving to a new town, Jenny doesn't know anyone. After watching Swan Lake on DVD over and over, Jenny convinces her parents to sign her up for ballet classes. But when Jenny arrives, she's shy and hides under the piano watching the other girls. She goes home and practices what she's watched privately.

Then Jenny strikes up a friendship with Ara, a girl loves to dance but always takes backseat to her sister. Jenny thinks Ara dances beautifully and they decide to help one another; Ara with her steps and Jenny with her fear of others watching her dance.

Jenny find she has a real knack for choreography and works on a dance to help Ara shine. But, Ara is determined that Jenny will dance alongside her. Will Jenny get over her fear or will she always remain on the sidelines watching her dream dance away?

Strathy does a great job of character development - keeping the characters believable. The atmosphere of the dance studio is one I have never experienced, but it's brought to life admirably. A great read for any child wanting to pursue their passions but are afraid they aren't good enough.
Profile Image for Jane(Janelba).
405 reviews30 followers
January 23, 2012
Wow what an amazing book ! I love anything to do with Ballet but this book went beyond that. I loved Jenny and could really relate to her but her friend Ara was the amazing one in this book too who supported her friend and helped her to overcome obstacles. Can't give to much info here or it will spoil it for others. All I can say is this is a book that most people should read !
Profile Image for Sarah.
46 reviews
February 20, 2017
Definitely a very strong story, Jenny's the type of girl I can (could) relate to, even if I was never quite as painfully shy. This book is unputdownable, whether you like and are interested in Ballet/Dancing or not.
Profile Image for Joan.
51 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2011
Well, going into this I didn't realize that it was probably written for a junior high age girl. With that said, it was a good little read. I recommend it to anyone who wants to inspire their daughter.
Profile Image for NormaCenva.
1,156 reviews83 followers
June 26, 2014
It was a very nice storytelling for a quiet evening time. I did enjoy the details, and characters were more or less believable. Ballet world was always mesmerizing for me, so I loved the possibility to emerge myself into this interesting world again.
Profile Image for Tracee Loran.
19 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2013
Very cute & inspiring book. It's a good read for young girls or anyone who need a boost of confidence and the push to do something they've always wanted to do.
July 18, 2012
Do u like dancing? if u do this book is perfect....if u dont well read it anyway
Profile Image for Glen Strathy.
Author 2 books83 followers
August 24, 2011
I wrote this book, so of course I like it. But I would love to know what you think.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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