Cover image for Dancer
Hewett, Lorri.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
214 pages ; 22 cm
Sixteen-year-old Stephanie struggles to perfect her ballet dancing as her classes are complicated by the introduction of a new male dancer.
Reading Level:
650 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 8.0 31872.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.2 14 Quiz: 21228 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Stephanie lives for ballet. No parties, no goofing off, no junk food -- she spends every single afternoon in class at ballet school, and every weekend she practices on her own. No one seems to understand why she pushes herself so hard -- not her parents, not her classmates. Sometimes even her fellow dancers think she needs to loosen up and live a little.

Then three new people arrive in Stephanie's life: Anna, the pale, elegant young Russian girl who steals the lead in Sleeping Beauty; Vance, the arrogant, unmotivated, but phenomenally talented dancer who will take the role of the Prince; and Vance's Aunt Winnie, a strikingly beautiful older woman who once danced for Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Thanks to Miss Winnie, Stephanie finds new courage to pursue the dream that many have told her is impossible: a future for herself as a professional dancer. Soon a small part of that dream is reserved for Vance, too, when Miss Winnie choreographs a pas de deux for them to learn together.

Ballet lovers will find themselves spellbound by this psychologically taut, believable story of a young black ballerina and the dancing that feeds her soul.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Sixteen-year-old Stephanie works hard toward her goal of becoming a professional ballerina, but there are complications. Her father feels that her career choice is unrealistic, particularly for an African American girl; her mostly white classmates at a private school near Denver include a number of misguided snobs on the fast track to trouble; and even Vince, Stephanie's newfound love interest, doesn't offer much escape because he has his own problems. Stephanie's relationship with her mentor, Miss Winnie, whom she tends to idealize, and her ongoing conflict with her father are particularly well portrayed. Readers familiar with ballet will find the dance background vivid and convincing, but the strength of the book comes from the carefully drawn characters and relationships. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like Martha Southgate's Another Way to Dance, this contemporary novel revolves around an African-American girl's often vexed encounters with the ballet world. Sixteen-year-old Stephanie does not fit the traditional image of a "stick figure" ballerina with skin "the color of a freshly peeled apple," but she is still one of the best students at her ballet school in a Denver suburb. She is determined to make a career in ballet, despite her parents' misgivings: "Even if you are good, even if you are the best, do you really think you have a chance to be treated fairly?" asks her father, a janitor at the private high school Stephanie attends on scholarship. Stephanie's confidence wanes considerably when she is upstaged by two promising new students: blonde, fair Anna, who wins the role of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and Vance, a boy with "deep brown" skin, who is cast as Anna's prince. But Vance's Aunt Winnie, who once studied dance with George Balanchine and with the founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, offers herself to Stephanie as a teacher and role model. The characters, a bit standard-issue, fall into a predictable triangle: dedicated Stephanie, unmotivated Vance and Miss Winnie, who tries to recapture her own lost dreams through her two star pupils. Hewett (Soulfire) gets the dance terminology right, but lacks the persuasive, insider's tone of Southgate's novel. This work is driven by issues, not a passion for dance. Ages 12-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-At 16, nothing means more to Stephanie Haynes than ballet. Disappointed when a Russian newcomer is cast as the lead in The Sleeping Beauty, Stephanie wonders if anyone has ever heard of a black ballerina. Then she meets Miss Winnie, a flamboyant retired African-American dancer. Soon, Sundays are devoted to workouts dancing with Vance, Winnie's talented but undisciplined nephew. A tentative romance blooms, but Vance doesn't live for ballet. Family conflict erupts as dance consumes more and more of Stephanie's time. Her parents have college plans-even Ivy League dreams-for her future. As she competes for spots in national dance companies' summer programs and tries to balance dance, home, and life as a scholarship student at a prestigious private school, the teen questions friendships, romance, and her desire to be a professional dancer. Miss Winnie arranges for Stephanie and Vance to take class with the Dance Theatre of Harlem while the company is in Denver for a performance and the experience helps Stephanie clarify her goals. Hewett's fluid writing style smoothly incorporates discrimination in the arts as well as class distinctions and crossing society's limits. Stephanie faces the challenges and choices of contemporary teens: first love, false friends, knowing oneself, and pursuing one's dreams. An appealing story with a positive message and plenty of dance action.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.