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A Ballerina Book: Angelina Ballerina – “Angelina’s Best Friend Dance”

“Angelina’s Best Friend Dance” is another book in the “Angelina Ballerina” series of children’s books. This book was inspired by “Angelina Ballerina” author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig. It was published in 2015 by Grosset & Dunlap, Penguin Young Readers Group.

“Angelina’s Best Friend Dance” is a cute story about best friends who love to dance together. I was excited to find so many similarities in this book to my children’s book, “The Triplet Ballerinas”. In this book, Angelina Ballerina is excited Spring has arrived and is twirling and leaping outside in the sunshine. She is looking forward to the upcoming “Spring Dance Recital” (in “The Triplet Ballerinas”, triplet sisters, Annie, Julie and Macie, are excited for the “Spring Ballet Show”). Angelina ends up getting the lead role in the recital and her friend, Alice, is her understudy. They decide to just have fun with their shared role and practice every day for the recital. ““Look how high I can leap!” cries Angelina”. “”And watch how fast I can twirl,” says Alice.” I love how these familiar words are sprinkled throughout this book just like in “The Triplet Ballerinas”. Beverly

Ballerinas: Pas de bourrée

Pas de bourrée is a classical ballet term meaning “beating steps”. It takes its name from a 17th century French dance called bourrée. It is a transitional movement in ballet in which the dancer transfers body weight quickly from foot to foot. It is usually executed on the points of the toes and has three quick little steps in the middle of the move that have to be fitted into one count of music.

There are many different pas de bourrée. The name of each one tells the dancer how to move her feet. For example, in pas de bourrée derriére, the dancer closes the same foot behind her every time and in pas de bourrée piqué, the dancer picks up or lifts her legs. The pas de bourrée is also a very common step in jazz dance and is used for transitions or traveling. Beverly

Ballerinas: Port de bras

Port de bras (pawr duhbra) or ports de bras (French for “carriage of the arms”) is a classical ballet term describing the movement of the arms. It is the way a dancer holds and uses her arms from one position to another. A beginning ballerina may first practice her port de bras at the barre before she moves to the center of the room.

In a proper port de bras, a dancer will move her arms from her back and shoulders while trying to move as smoothly as possible. In classical ballet, the arms are never fully straight. In contemporary ballet, port de bras generally always look coordinated with the lower half of the body and still look balletic in nature (no excess tension in the arms). The term “port de bras” also includes the position and movement of the head in relation with the arms. A “grand port de bras” is when a dancer bends while moving their arms. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: Angelina Ballerina – “Angelina’s Baby Sister”

“Angelina’s Baby Sister” is another book in the “Angelina Ballerina” series of children’s books. The story is by Katharine Holabird and the illustrations are by Helen Craig.

In this “Angelina Ballerina” story, Angelina is excited there will soon be a new baby in the family. When Miss Lilly gives Angelina a beautiful china statue as a prize at ballet school, she suggests Angelina makes up a dance to welcome the new baby. Angelina is happy to come home to a new baby sister, Polly. Her happiness turns to sadness though when no one gives her the attention she needs to show them her statue and dance. This is a classic story told with incredibly detailed illustrations. Beverly

Look for more Angelina Ballerina books in the months ahead.

My Triplet Ballerinas: A Triplet Inspiration

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. It was very easy to dedicate “The Triplet Ballerinas” to them. The dedication says, “For my triplet granddaughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie, who inspire me each and every day“. This is so true.

When I started writing a children’s book almost 6 years ago, I had no idea what to write about. After a dog came to our house one Fall day, lost from a hunter, I thought maybe this would be a good story for a picture book. I couldn’t make that story work, but then I was inspired with writing about the triplets. Write what you know. The earliest versions of “The Triplet Ballerinas” though involved horse poop(!) and only one triplet as a main character. Thanks to a terrific author critique I received, my one triplet main character became three triplet main characters and it evolved from there.

Back then, the triplets were of an age (around 6 years old) that they would have really enjoyed reading and sharing this picture book. Even though, by the time the book was published, they had left picture books behind and entered chapter books, they still love that I wrote a picture book inspired by them and dedicated to them. Beverly

Ballerinas: Battements

Photo by Jansel Ferma on

Battement (“beating”) in ballet is a movement in which the foot is extended in any direction usually followed by a beat against the supporting foot. One leg is moved outward from the body and then in again, alternating side to side of the working leg. Battements are typically performed in multiples, quickly and in rapid succession, so that the working foot appears to be fluttering. They are usually executed in front to the side or back.

Battement exercises help to train the dancer’s legs and feet to hold positions and jump high. Some of these exercises are: The slow battement tendu (“stretched”) where the toes point but stay on the ground. The quicker battement glisse’ (“slide”) where the foot quickly slides out to a pointed position just off the ground. The grand battement (“big”) where the dancer’s leg swishes through tendu and glisse‘ to a high position. Also, pushing both feet against the floor as the dancer opens and closes her leg will give her strong insteps and toes and help her get ready for pointe work. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: Angelina Ballerina – “Angelina Has the Hiccups!”

Angelina Has the Hiccups!

“Angelina Has the Hiccups!” is part of the “Angelina Ballerina” series of children’s books. It is written by Katharine Holabird and based on illustrations by Helen Craig. This book is a Level 2 reader from Penguin Young Readers.

This is a cute ballerina story and has some similarities to my own children’s book, “The Triplet Ballerinas”. Just like triplet sisters, Annie, Julie and Macie, love to go to the “Dance Studio” for their ballet class every Thursday, Angelina and her best friend, Alice, love to go to ballet school every week (at “Miss Lilly’s” in this story). One day, Miss Lilly announces the class will give a performance of a dance called “The Flower Princesses and the Dragon”. Angelina and the other “mouselings” are the flower princesses. Again, just like Macie and Annie in “The Triplet Ballerinas”, they twirl and leap across the room (but no one “floats” in this story like Julie does). On the day of the show, Angelina is so excited, she gets the hiccups. Will everyone be able to stop them in time or will Angelina be a “hiccuping ballerina”? Beverly

Look for a review of another “Angelina Ballerina” book next month.

The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show, Part 1

Written by Beverly Witwer, Illustration below by Sandie Sonke


One Spring day, triplet ballerinas, Julie, Macie and Annie, rushed into the Dance Studio for Miss Carol’s ballet class.

“Miss Carol is crying,” said Julie. “No, I don’t think she is,” said Macie. “I think it’s allergies.”

“Yes, she is definitely crying,” said Annie.

“Take a seat on the floor everyone,” said Miss Carol. “I have some bad news.”

“The Studio needs some minor repairs to keep everyone safe,” she told them. “We have to close the doors for a little bit since I don’t have all the money for them right now.”

“No!” said the triplet ballerinas.

“What are we going to do without the Dance Studio?” asked Annie. “Yeah,” said Macie. “What are we going to do?”

“The only thing I can think of to do is to somehow raise money for the repairs,” said Miss Carol.

Julie waved her arms. “I know what we can do,” she said. “We can have a dance talent show!”

“That might work,” said Miss Carol. “We could charge admission and take donations.”

“Yay!” said the triplet ballerinas.

“We will help you with it,” said Annie. “I know it will work,” said Julie. “Yea, I think it can work,” said Macie.

“Okay.” said Miss Carol. “Let’s put on a Dance Talent Show.”

Look for Part 2 of “The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show” on April 30, 2021.

A Ballerina Book: “I’m A Ballerina!”

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“I’m a Ballerina!” is a “Little Golden Book” written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Joey Chou. It is told in First Person and rhyme with detailed illustrations.

This was a cute book about an unnamed little girl and her journey through her ballet class to a recital where she declares, “I’m a ballerina now!” Along the way, I was reunited with all the familiar ballet terms that I love, such as barre, pirouette and jete’. I am not a big fan of rhyme, but even that won me over. Beverly

My Triplet Ballerinas: Triplet Teenagers

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. As my triplet granddaughters approach the teenage years, I have become aware that they will probably not want to spend as much time with me as they used to. Even a few years ago, Jaeli was pretty attached to me. On my trip to Germany in 2018, I would have to answer calls from her in the middle of the night because she missed me constantly. These days, I know she still loves me, but she doesn’t need me as much and I have accepted that (somewhat!). Makenna has always been independent and mature, so I became used to early on accepting whatever time she gave me, but, in some ways, Maysie is still that little girl who needs me as much as Jaeli used to.

In the words of my daughter, Megan: My youngest triplet, Maysie, has been spending a lot of time with her Grandma since this pandemic started. It’s been rough at times not having her here. I miss her a lot, but there sure is a lot less drama! I think she enjoys being alone, without her sisters. When she is home, they seem to fight more with her. I am worried she has jeopardized her relationship with her sisters, as Makenna and Jaeli have become really close. Hopefully, when she comes home for good, things will get back to normal for all of them. She has always felt “left out” and that she doesn’t connect with anyone like her sisters do. My goal with this is to make her feel like she is special in Grandma’s eyes. She needs it. It has always broken my heart in the past to hear her say no one loves her. Although I have tried to show her some extra attention, it wasn’t enough. The time she is spending with Grandma not only helps her, but I think it helps my mom as well. They need each other during this tough time, so I can’t take that away from either of them.

It was such a joy and comfort to spend all that time with Maysie. It brought us closer together and she still spends an occasional Saturday night with me without her sisters. I think Maysie loves the quiet and early bedtime here compared to at home where she shares a bedroom with Jaeli who tends to stay up late on the weekends. I will cherish any time I have with her and her sisters for however much longer it lasts as they become full-fledged teenagers this summer. Beverly