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A Ballerina Book: Angelina Ballerina – “Angelina and the Tummy Butterflies”

“Angelina and the Tummy Butterflies” 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 2013 by Grosset & Dunlap, Penguin Young Readers Group.

Just like my children’s book, “The Triplet Ballerinas”, “Angelina and the Tummy Butterflies” opens with the words, “One (beautiful) spring day…”. On the way to dance class, Angelina and her friend, Alice, are practicing the poems they must memorize for the next day. Alice keeps forgetting the words to her poem though and even their jazz dance class doesn’t take Alice’s mind off thoughts of her poem. After class, Alice is still nervous, and Ms. Mimi, their dance teacher, tells Alice about the “tummy butterflies” she gets when she is nervous. This doesn’t help Alice, she is still nervous, but it does give Angelina a great idea that involves a butterfly jazz dance. “Angelina and the Tummy Butterflies” is more a book about jazz dancing rather than ballet, but I love any kind of dancing in a children’s picture book. I also love the snapshot illustrations of Angelina and her friends that are so vivid and lifelike in this book. Beverly

My Triplet Ballerinas: Triplet Teenagers! Part 2

Guest Blogger: Megan J.

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet daughters, Makenna Anne, Jaeli Jo and Maysie Jailyn. For the last few years, Makenna has had her own room while Jaeli and Maysie have shared a room. But, the fighting and purposely making each other mad was getting out of control between Jaeli and Maysie so we gave Jaeli her own space. Since then, the fighting has dropped drastically and we are all less stressed! They seem to want to be around each other more and get along better. They still have their moments, but, all around, much happier!  

Makenna in a good mood is always pleasant and special. I love to spend time with her then. I love our talks. I listen more than I talk and try not to “parent” but instead “be a friend” until I feel she needs me to “parent”. I feel she opens up more this way and shares things with me that a lot of kids wouldn’t share with their parents. I want Makenna to feel comfortable opening up and not to be afraid to talk to me about anything. I try not to judge and think before I respond to make her feel comfortable and know that I genuinely care and am listening. I see great things happening with her!  

Jaeli has always been somewhat independent and sharing a room with Maysie was starting to make her feel lost and invisible. She craves her own space, her privacy. Her dad and I decided she needed that for her own sanity—and mine! So, we converted an area in the lower floor of our home that is just hers. Jaeli loves it and has been so much happier since. She does tend to keep to herself but seems to enjoy the time she spends with her sisters now. Hopefully, being happier will also push her to show the world the sweet, amazing, caring heart that we have seen and know she has always had.  

Maysie is obsessed with make-up. I must constantly remind her to pick up after herself, because I always find her bathroom counter is covered in make-up dust. She also has a very strict bedtime schedule, and if she can’t stick to it, it “messes up everything!” Maysie can’t go to bed without telling me and her grandma “good night” (even if it is only in a text). If we don’t say it back, she says she can’t sleep. She has the most love out of any of the girls, but she keeps it in and only shows it when it benefits her. I have been trying to teach her to let it out and to show people how amazing she is.

The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show, Part 2

A few weeks later, the triplet ballerinas rushed into the Dance Studio and joined Miss Carol at the long table in front of the stage. Soon, auditions began for the “Dance Talent Show”. Each participant(s) was assigned a number to show which order they would audition in.

Miss Carol looked at the paper in front of her and said, “Let’s begin with #1, McKenna.”  McKenna leaped high and low around the stage. “Good, but not as spectacular as my leaps,” said Annie as McKenna left the stage. “#2, Macy and Jacy,” said Miss Carol. Twins Macy and Jacy swirled and whirled and floated in unison all around the stage. “Beautiful,” said Miss Carol. “Oh, no,” said Macie when #3, Jase, walked out on the stage punching the air. Jase bobbed and weaved and bobbed and weaved again. Then, he walked off the stage. Miss Carol sighed and said, “Next.” #4, Meggie, took the stage with a contemporary dance that flowed from one movement to the other. “I like her,” said Julie. “Maybe, let’s move on to #5,” said Miss Carol. For her audition, Kristen performed a ballet dance that included one plié after another and many turns and small jumps. Annie smiled through the whole dance. “Before we take a break, let’s finish with #6,” said Miss Carol. Sisters Kara and Kayla walked arm-in-arm onto the stage. “Are they twins too?” asked Julie. “No, they are only 18 months apart though,” said Macie. Kara and Kayla did a quick jazz dance. Their arms and legs never stopped moving and they finished at the same time. “Good job, girls,” said Miss Carol.

After the break, #7, PJ, auditioned. She loved to tap dance and it showed in her audition. “Ooh,” said the triplet ballerinas. “#8 is next,” said Miss Carol as friends Mandi and Angi took the stage. They added a little extra to their audition when they performed a song and dance number to “Let It Go”. Macie smiled and clapped her hands the whole time. “#9, Joss,” said Miss Carol after Mandi and Angi ran off the stage. Joss did a cute hip-hop dance that amazed everyone. “Next is #10, Stevie,” said Miss Carol. Stevie quickly did the YMCA dance before she rushed off the stage. “Ok, next is #11, James and JoJo,” said Miss Carol. James and JoJo performed a perfect waltz. They glided around and around the dance floor. “Very good, James and JoJo,” said Miss Carol. “Last to audition is #12, Lea Jean.” “#12, Lea Jean,” said Miss Carol again when Lea Jean did not appear at first. Finally, Lea Jean ran out to the stage and performed a cha cha slide. Julie got up from her chair and did the cha cha slide right along with her. When Lea Jean finished, Miss Carol stood up and said, “Thank you everyone for auditioning today; we will let you know soon if you are in the Dance Talent Show.” Then, she looked at Annie, Julie and Macie and said, “Triplet ballerinas, let’s go pick our dancers for the Dance Talent Show.”

Part 1 of “The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show” was released on January 30, 2021. Look for Part 3 on July 30, 2021.

My Triplet Ballerinas: Triplet Teenagers! Part 1

Guest Blogger: Megan J.

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet daughters, Makenna Anne, Jaeli Jo and Maysie Jailyn. These triplets will be turning 13 in just a couple months! Teenagers can be tough, especially three girls at once. Their unique bond can’t be denied, but, when they are around each other for too long, they tend to fight more than usual. Their personalities are all quite different so sometimes they clash. The drama between them can be unbearable at times but it is fascinating to see how much they are changing as time goes on, becoming three beautiful young ladies. They won’t admit it, but they are sometimes lost without the other.

Makenna is the most mature by far but with that comes the attitude! It is her way or no way. She wants what she wants, when she wants it, or she gets upset. I have been trying to teach her that if she wants me to go out of my way to do something for her, then she needs to respect my wishes and do things for me when I ask. Makenna used to be so good at helping and keeping her room clean. Now, as a teenager, she has the messy room, and I don’t see her very often. But she has always been very independent and does the best of the three girls at making friends.

Jaeli is my worrier and the most sensitive. This girl worries more than anyone I have ever met. She cares so deeply about what people think and puts herself down too much. Getting her to understand that the world is not against her and she needs to not worry so much has been a struggle, but I think we are slowly getting there. Jaeli has been put into some tough situations that she was afraid of entering, then once she pushed herself and did it, she realized it wasn’t as bad as she thought. Hopefully, as time goes on, she will realize it doesn’t matter what people think about her so long as she stays true to herself.

Maysie is, and probably always will be, my drama queen. Of the three girls, she is also my pleaser. She goes out of her way to make me happy. She usually does what I ask… although sometimes with hesitation. She prefers to be alone and do her own thing. Maysie tries to be carefree most of the time, which I love about her, but she tends to hold in her feelings and then they all come out at once and it is the end of the world! We are working on it though, trying to push her to treat others how she wants to be treated and to show she cares by going out of her way to make others feel special…not just her mom!  

Look for Triplet Teenagers! Part 2 by Megan J. on May 14, 2021

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