Today, Sherryl Clark is back to tell us about one of her very new releases, One Perfect Pirouette.

Attending the National Ballet School is every aspiring dancer’s dream. It’s been Brynna’s for as long as she can remember.

When her parents move her family to Melbourne so Brynna can attend a top ballet school, it looks like her dream is about to become a reality. But why does she feel so awful about the move? Her brother Tam is angrier than she has ever seen him and her mother is working hard to keep the family afloat.

Will every step towards success come at a price? For Brynna to realise her heart’s desire, something has to give. But will it be her family?

One Perfect Pirouette is a novel for 10-14 yo’s about Brynna, a girl torn between her passion for ballet and the people she loves best.

Sherryl Clark says that the inspiration for One Perfect Pirouette came from three days she spent in Canberra doing school visits for the CBCA there.

The person who “chauffeured” me around was a teacher-librarian at a school next to the Australian Institute of Sport. She told me about the students at her school who were at the AIS, and how their families had moved to Canberra to give them the chance to maybe become Olympic gymnasts. It got me thinking about families who sacrifice everything in order to give one child their chance – and the effect on that family. This led to a story about a family who move to Melbourne so the youngest girl can have her best chance at auditioning for the Australian Ballet School (except in the book it’s the National Ballet School).

Where the conflict comes from

Brynna  has a lot of talent and determination, but she also feels the pressure from her family (one brother doesn’t cope with the city at all) and they don’t have much money. She has to start at a new school, and finds some kids in the city are not as nice as her mates back home. And of course the pressure at the elite ballet school she is going to, where quite a few of the girls are intent on auditioning as well, and see her as a “wannabe” and try to get rid of her.

One Perfect Pirouette is not just about ballet – it’s about having a dream and the hard work it takes to achieve it, the struggle to rise above jealousy and rivalry, and also about family secrets. Brynna’s mum also has a secret that she’s been hiding!

The Main Character

Brynna has dreams, but she’s not infallible.

Sherryl says,

I read a lot about child proteges, and their families, too. One girl in particular seemed so absolutely confident that she was going to be famous that she felt unreal! I don’t think it’s that simple – especially when what you want affects your family, too. For a child of that age, to pursue a dream of the Olympics or the Australian Ballet would take a lot of courage, but underneath there would surely be moments of doubt. That’s what I was interested in – not perfection!

UQP is creating teachers’ notes, and Sherryl will be adding the material to her website , especially sources for research.  She says, there are some fantastic websites with video and examples.

The writing journey of One Perfect Pirouette

Sherryl advised that the things she liked most about writing this book were

My research at the Australian Ballet School, for a start! Leigh Rowles (Director of students) was a fantastic support, and she also allowed me to watch classes. I also enjoyed creating the family story – I had to rewrite Mum’s part of the story and completely change it (a request from the publisher) and I think I’ve come up with something better.

She says that the hardest part was the restructuring.

Initially it was going to be two books, and then UQP just wanted the two books condensed into one. It felt like I had to cram everything into one book (I didn’t really, I just chose the most important elements), which was a challenge. And now there’s been one review already in AB&P that suggested a sequel!

On Friday, Sherryl Clark will be back to talk about her other June release, Now I am Bigger.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.