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Dancing in the Wings
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About the Author

Actor, director, dancer/choreographer and singer, Debbie Allen's career has touched nearly every facet of the entertainment industry.

Allen's Broadway career as a dancer, singer and actor began in the chorus of "Purlie". She next appeared in "Raisin", then in the 1979 production West Side Story", for which she won a prestigious Drama Desk Award, as well as, her first Tony Award nomination. Allen received another Tony Award nomination in 1986 for her role as Bob Fosse's "Sweet Charity".Allen's choreography career soared in 1980 with the international hit TV series "Fame". In 1988 she went behind the scenes to choreograph the new American Musical "Carrie with the Royal Shakespeare Company" and has continued to devote herself to that discipline. She holds the distinction of having choreographed the Academy Awards for five consecutive years. Allen collaborated with James Ingram to create "Brothers of the Knight" which played at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in the spring of 1998.

Allen currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Kadir Nelson is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist. He lives in San Diego, California.

Reviews

K-Gr 2-This charming picture book focuses on the world of ballet classes, and children's cruelty toward those who are different. Sassy loves to dance but she is tall, gangly, and has really big feet. Her desire to perform is her strongest asset. When she soars through the air in a giant leap, she feels like she can do anything. Sassy does indeed live up to her name. This African-American child is fresh, she is innovative-she wears a bright yellow leotard to stand out in the crowd-and she is determined. The story is sure to build self-esteem in those readers who can empathize with Sassy and they'll cheer when she takes center stage in a dance festival in the nation's capital. Nelson's artwork conveys Sassy's spirit and captures well the expressions of her smug, mocking classmates. A great read-aloud.-Kay Bowes, Concord Pike Library, Wilmington, DE Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

The creators of Brothers of the Knight here offer an inspirational story of a hopeful young ballet dancer who complains of her too-big feet and too-long legs: "I was too big for the boys to pick up, and too tall to be in line with the other girls. So I watched from backstage, dancing in the wings, hoping that if I just kept dancing and trying, it would be my turn to dance in the spotlight." Though her brother and several of her peers constantly razz her, Sassy's uncle encourages her to audition for a role in a summer dance festival, asserting, "All you gotta do to make your mark on the world is walk into a room." The director of the festival echoes this sentiment when he announcesÄin the book's foreseeable denouementÄthat Sassy has landed a place in his program. Allen's wordy narrative occasionally tries too hard to be hip (featuring such slang put-downs as "Your mama" and "Talk to the hand"), but this tale may well boost the confidence of youngsters who share Sassy's lack of self-assuredness. Nelson's animated illustrations depict Sassy with a grace that belies her self-image and that effectively foreshadows the accolades to come. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Nelson's artwork conveys Sassy's spirit and captures well the expressions of her smug, mocking classmates. A great read-aloud. (School Library Journal)

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