Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you’re close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner’s heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .
Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister’s shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .
Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .
There are many themes in DANCE OF SHADOWS but dance is used both as an art form and mechanism for the supernatural. Which idea came first, the dance element or the supernatural element and how do they both influence the characters?
I’ve always thought that there is something supernatural about dance. I mean … it’s so hard! But talented dancers make it look easy. These performers move are able to command their bodies to move in ways that should be impossible—and yet, they are able to leap and twirl and move across a stage with such speed, dexterity, and skill that it barely seems real. I remember as a little girl, coming into the city and seeing The Nutcracker in Lincoln Center, and truly believing that magic was happening on stage. Ballet is such an ancient art form, and that idea of, What if there actually is something supernatural about dancing? is what came first to me, and how Dance of Shadows was initially born.
This question is something that my main character, Vanessa Adler, struggles with as well. All of her life, she has always felt a little bit different when she dances—almost like time seems to stop and the world begins to spin. She’s just assumed that this happens to everyone, but when she starts school at the prestigious New York Ballet Academy, she begins to realize that perhaps what she thought was normal actually is strange, and sets her apart from the other dancers … which is not necessarily a good thing.
Throughout the novel, elements of the supernatural (which I created) are woven with true elements of dance—what practices are like, what clothing dancers wear, and what it would be like to attend a school like NYBA. The reality of the dance world certainly influences the characters—how they act, what they eat, and how they spend their days. Being a dancer is incredibly difficult. The training is intense, and many sacrifices must be made along the way to achieve one’s goals. The kind of teenagers who long to become ballet dancers are serious, dedicated, and willing to do anything to succeed. In terms of the supernatural elements, this affects the characters greatly as well. Something dark and sinister is happening at NYBA, and Vanessa and her friends are directly affected by this presence—and, in order to survive and flourish, they must find out what exactly is going on at school. For Vanessa personally, she wonders if these strange happenings are related to the disappearance of her older sister Margaret, who attended NYBA years earlier but mysteriously vanished.
So, while both the “supernatural” and the “natural” influence the characters in Dance of Shadows, they intertwine in a way that I think is very exciting, and I hope you do too!