A young teen in 1959 South Carolina has one dream, dancing on stage in New York City.
Unfortunately, Casey’s family is dirt-poor, with no money for dance lessons or much else. Her father died fighting in Korea, so her mother and grandmother, both of whom she loves dearly, must work. She can only watch from a tree limb as her rich, snooty, bullying classmate (dubbed Miss Priss) takes ballet classes. When New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet announces auditions, the Priss is certain of acceptance, while Casey must work after school for the bus fare. Once in New York, she is overwhelmed by its size and teeming population. Her lack of formal training and the ballet master’s astute eye lead to a referral to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Casey loves the movements, takes classes, rehearses and soon dances with the company. Rubin, a debut author, describes the Graham style well but falters in her depiction of New York. Casey may not be the best tour guide for readers, obsessing over dance and family instead of geography, but she does learn to embrace both new friends and Miss Priss. Both Carolinians see their single-minded obsessions quickly—almost unbelievably—rewarded.
Dance fans will enjoy the up-close look at a legendary dance troupe. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-16)