Tag Archives: ballet fiction

The Rules of Ballet

Every dancer knows there are rules in ballet. They aren’t written down anywhere but they absolutely exist – and they are ironclad. Miss Roberta, Indigo’s ballet teacher in WISH, is very outspoken about a lot of things, including personal hygiene and what dancers should and shouldn’t do outside of ballet classes. Ssince she was a professional ballet dancer herself, she knows what it takes to be a ballet dancer and how hard it is to make it. This is the manifesto she shares her manifesto with all of her ballet students to help guide them:


Humans are naturally lazy and dancers have to work hard to overcome this tendency.

Take a moment to look at the average person’s posture and you’ll see the truth in this statement. Most of us shuffle through life in the default setting: with our shoulders hunched over and our heads down.

There is always room for improvement. If you think you are a good enough dancer, you’re wrong!

Ballet is all about reaching perfection­–your own version of perfection. There is always something to fine-tune or something new to learn.

There will always be someone who is a better dancer than you.

This is a difficult reality to face but sooner or later this is true for all dancers, whether it’s due to skill or age. My first ballet teacher used to tell us to never get comfortable or cocky because there would always be better dancers out there. You have to stay sharp and constantly push yourself if you want to reach the top. The good news is hard work and persistence pay off. Work to the best of your abilities and you will forge forward.

It takes hard work and discipline to get ahead.

It also takes unrelenting willpower and persistence, indestructible courage and ridiculous levels of confidence. But hey, no one ever said it was going to be easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.

If you can’t take constructive criticism, you are in the wrong place.

By the time you reach the professional level of ballet, you are not only able to handle criticism, you live for it. Ballet dancers eat up “corrections” like most kids chow on candy because they know if someone takes time to make a comment, they think you’re worth it.

If you are too tall, too fat or too lazy, pick a different career.

As stated before, this is not a career for anyone not prepared to work their butts off. Although the physical ideal in ballet is slowly changing it’s still a much tougher road if your body type doesn’t match what ballet companies are looking for.

The love of dance brought you here and it will carry you through your career.

Every dancer you see on stage today started with love of ballet in their heart and the dream to become part of the magic onstage. That love is what keeps dancers going day after day, sometimes working through pain in various forms. But ask any dancer if they love what they do and you’ll get the same answer: Yesssssss!

Ballet is equal parts dedication, inspiration, and perspiration.

It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, either… or for anyone who minds getting sweaty.

The human body is a dancer’s most important tool and our biggest challenge (see Rule #1).

As mentioned above, the human body is naturally lazy. Dancers have to fight hard to overcome this tendency. Since top fitness is part of the job description, most ballet dancers spend every waking minute keeping their tools in prime shape, either taking classes, doing supplemental training like Pilates, stretching or going for a massage (although this last activity is far less likely).

Ballet involves sacrifice (of certain dangerous activities…including and most especially boys).

If you do the math you’ll immediately see why this is true. If x, the dancer, spends almost every waking moment in a ballet studio that leaves y hours left to do anything else. In this case y=0. But all kidding aside, there are certain activities most dancers don’t do because of the risk of injury or because they will develop the wrong muscles: skiing, horseback riding, and circus arts, just to name a few.

Whether you are a ballet dancer or not, you probably have your own manifesto for life. May it guide you well. Even if you don’t resonate with Miss Roberta’s manifesto, do take her advice and wear deodorant.


One habit you can’t live without

Goals and why you need them


A Day in The Life of Professional Ballet Student

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a student at one of the top ballet schools in the world? To put it simply, days begin early and end late with a lot in between. Indigo Stevens, the main character in WISH, my new young adult novel, wants this life more than anything. If she gets her wish, her days will be filled with ballet classes, rehearsals, and other add-ons like Pilates or yoga class. But she’s also a high school student, with all the same school requirements as anyone else. Add all of these things together and you can see how challenging it is to manage everything.

There’s some good news: the ballet studio and Indigo’s potential home and school are all within walking distance so she won’t have to factor in (or deal with) public transportation (which is often unreliable at best). However, life still gets complicated with all the back and forth between NYSB and her school. She has to change back and forth from street clothes to ballet clothes each time, which adds to the complication (plus it’s not easy yanking off sweaty tights quickly).

Finding time to eat is also a challenge, but Indigo will learn to carry light snacks she can munch on the fly. Some of her favorites include energy bars (only if they are low in sugar and have a short list of ingredients), mixed nuts, dried fruit, and yogurt.

It will only possible for her to attend school for two periods each day due to her heavy ballet schedule, but her school offers a work-around: home study courses. While this may seem like a great solution it means hours of homework at night after a long day at the ballet studio.

It’s a good thing she loves what she does, otherwise she might not be able to keep up with her life. On her toughest days she turns to her favorite guilty pleasure: a frozen yogurt topped with carob chips and coconut.

Here is what a typical day will look like for Indigo:

6am: wake up. Sew ribbons on multiple pairs of pointe shoes while munching on health-conscious breakfast.

6:30am: contrast bath right foot to help heal tendonitis flare-up.

6:45am: pack dance bag, make sure to bring snacks, multiple sets of practice clothes, Tiger Balm to put on sore muscles.

6:55 am: finish English essay, half-written before falling asleep mid-sentence.

7:30 am: get dressed

7:40 am: put hair up in bun

8:10 am: load school back pack, walk ½ mile to school.

8:30-9:30 am: attend first period, hand in English essay.

9:35 am: walk ½ mile to NYSB.

10-11:30 am: morning class, studio A.

11:35 am: change back to street clothes

11:40 am: lunch on the fly while walking ½ mile back to school.

12:10-1:15 pm: Pre-Calculus with Dr. Phelps. Struggle to keep eyes open.

1:20 pm: walk ½ mile back to NYSB.

2:30-4 pm: Variations class with Madame Glinka

4:15-5:15pm: Pilates strength training

5:15pm: power snack

5:30-6:30 pm: Serenade rehearsal

6:35pm: change back to street clothes

6:45pm: walk ½ mile home

7:15-9:15pm: eat deli sushi while reading & completing assignment for History correspondence course

9:15-10:45pm: complete homework for pre-calculus, biology, French

10:45pm: bath

11:05pm: bed

Final stats:

total hours danced: 5 hours

total hours of school: 5 1/2 hours

total miles walked: 2 miles

As you can see, each day is jam-packed. Keep in mind dance classes are mandatory six days per week, with Sundays as the only day off, so there’s not much free time. But when this is the life you’ve chosen it’s a tough but thrilling ride. If everything goes well, you move up to the professional level.

Interview with WISH Cover Model: Colette

The cover reveal for WISH has prompted a lot of curiosity about the featured dancer. This comes as no surprise; Colette is a lovely and talented dancer. Read on to find out more about where she came from and where she’s headed.
Tell us about your ballet background.
I started ballet when I was 3 at a little studio in Fairfax called DT7. I danced with them for 7 years and eventually joined their pre-professional program. I then decided to audition for San Francisco Ballet School when I was 10 and was accepted to their year round program! I then went through levels 5-8 at San Francisco Ballet School for 7 years. When I graduated high school at the age of 17 I was accepted to Indiana University and now dance with the Jacobs School of Music majoring in Ballet.
What were your initial thoughts about modeling for the cover of WISH?
At first I wasn’t positive what kind of book WISH was going to be, but I didn’t hesitate when I was asked and felt honored to be on the cover of WISH.
What were your favorite parts about modeling? Biggest challenges?
My favorite part about modeling is getting positive feedback from photographers. When I know the photographer is getting what they need then it makes me feel excited to see the final product.The biggest challenge for me while modeling is being able to relax my face and body.
How do you feel after seeing the finished cover? How is it different from what you imagined it would look like?
I really love it, I think it looks really mystical, beautiful, and almost erie. It is a very intriguing image capturing the audiences’ attention. I really like the black and white effect. I thought it would be much more blurred out around the corners and thought I would be farther back on the cover, but I really like the final product.
What are your current projects? 
Currently I am a sophomore at Indiana University and getting a Bachelors of Science with an Outside Field. The bachelor of science part is a major in ballet while my outside field is environmental management. My freshmen year I performed La Bayadere and this year I have performed two pieces for the fall ballet, a classical Balanchine piece, Emeralds and a modern piece, Dark Elegies. We are now working on the Nutcracker, as Indiana starts to go into the low 30 degrees bringing in the holiday spirit, unlike California!
A few fun facts:
Favorite treat: Banana bread/ Oreos
Craziest thing you’ve ever done: going to a school 2,000 miles away from home.
3 things that make you happy: Indian food/ My parents/ Performing
Favorite past time: hanging with friends/ watching the TV show Scandal
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself in a professional company either on the West or East coast in the corps de ballet.
Anything else to share?
Although ballet is a wonderful part of my life and I am so blessed to have the most supportive parents in the whole world, ballet can be extremely tough mentally and physically. I feel very lucky to be able to go to college and get my education. Although I am dancing around 7 hours everyday, I have many fun activities outside of the ballet program. I love my academics and I feel as though if I get injured or ballet doesn’t work out in the end, I will still have a degree from a great university! I believe doing something you love in life and pursuing it is very important but at the same time to be open to other possibilities, as well as living life to the fullest.


WISH: Cover Reveal

Wish - eBookCover

Title: WISH

Series: Indigo Dreams #1

Author: Grier Cooper

Release Date: December 2, 2014

About the cover: This cover is a culmination of a whole lot of work, a big dream, more work, and several talented people. I am thrilled with the results and hope you like it as much as I do.

I had an idea of the look and feel I was going for when I began. I knew I wanted a ballet dancer on the cover –not just any dancer – but a REAL dancer. A friend put in me in touch with Colette Kerny (the  cover model) and we shot the original photo in a dance studio this past summer. I passed this off to LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations and she worked her magic.

Nothing quite describes the feeling of seeing the cover of your book for the first time. It’s kind of like having an inner hoedown: swirling bits of relief, revelry, exhilaration, and jubilee. If I had any fireworks laying around I’d light ’em. For now you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Stay tuned for the story of my cover model. Colette Kerny, and other tidbits and yummy nibbles from WISH in the next few weeks leading up to the official release!


For Indigo Stevens, ballet classes at Miss Roberta’s ballet studio offer the stability and structure that are missing from her crazy home life. At almost 16, she hopes this is the year she will be accepted into the New York School of Ballet. First she must prove she’s ready, and that means ignoring Jesse Sanders – the cute boy with dimples who is definitely at the top of Miss Roberta’s List of Forbidden Things for Dancers.

But Jesse is the least of Indigo’s concerns. When she discovers her mom is an alcoholic, it simultaneously explains everything and heaps more worry on Indigo’s shoulders. As her mom’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Indigo fights to maintain balance, protect her younger brothers from abuse, and keep her mother from going over the edge. When the violence at home escalates, Indigo realizes she can no longer dance around the issue. At the risk of losing everything, she must take matters into her own hands before it’s too late.

WISH is available for pre-order…grab your copy now!

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