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Dance Stance: Beginning Ballet for Young Dancers with Ballerina Konora

Ballet begins with learning how to stand. That sounds much easier than it actually is. From knowing the proper foot placement to being fully aware of one’s own spine, finding the right stance is not only essential but promotes good health. A proper stance, as the author points out, isn’t only for dancers. People of all ages can benefit from learning how to stand correctly. Broken down into simple steps with beautiful illustrations, the author and illustrator have handed readers everything they need to know to literally take the first step into ballet.

Dance Stance, Beginning Ballet for Young Dancers, by Once Upon a Dance and illustrated by Stella Maris Mongodi, is an incredibly informative book that will be useful to every reader whether they dance or not. The illustrations lend themselves perfectly to the narrative and provide comical moments throughout the book. It is worth noting that this book appears to be for younger readers, but the vocabulary and sentence structure is more appropriate for upper elementary and beyond.

I was especially impressed with the snippets of advice from a ballerina placed strategically throughout the book. These notes are right on target with the narrative and give readers an insight into the discipline a ballerina must maintain. I am not a dancer, but I appreciated these sections of the book; they served to add to the authors’ message.

Dance Stance, Beginning Ballet for Young Dancers, by Once Upon a Dance (Ballerina Konora and Teacher Terrel) and illustrated by Stella Maris Mongodi, is a short read that I enjoyed and recommend it to anyone curious about becoming a ballerina or improving their own posture. This book would make the perfect gift for anyone who is thinking of studying ballet. It is full of fantastic advice for readers of all ages.

Pages: 63 | ASIN: B09ZGHW76H

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Dance Adventures

Once Upon a Dance Author Interview

Danika’s Dancing Day shows children how to turn ordinary activities into fun dances. How can parents fit this book into their larger dance instruction?

Danika’s Dancing Day is suggested for near the end of the Dance-It-Out! series. Moving through all of the books in the series and even into the dance series for older kids: Dancing Shapes, and then Ballet Inspiration and Choreography Concepts (debuting this spring) would further kids’ body awareness and dance knowledge. I’ve had parents tell me that they turn other stories into dance adventures after sharing the series, so kids can get even more general movement, body awareness, coordination, and balance practice. And of course, the books can be a springboard to formal dance classes.

What is a critical first step for children in dance?

In my opinion, joy is paramount. Having fun and enjoying movement come pretty naturally to young children, so if we approach dance as a playful bonding experience, they’ll almost always love it.

The thing I’ve seen kids develop in just a couple weeks of dance classes is in their sense of self—understanding their physical edges in space and how to move safely around others people and things is an important component of both dance class and life.

What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from the other books in the series?

This story builds on previous concepts and is intended for a slightly older audience. We name several of the movements mentioned in earlier books and build on movements. For example, we explore kitty tails from the floor in Sadoni Squirrel, practice standing on one foot (arabesque) in The Cat with the Crooked Tail, learn a jump with detailed instructions in Mira Monkey, and in Danika—combine all of these with bigger jumps and a named sauté arabesque.

This is book 12 of the Dance-It-Out! Collection of Creative Movement Stories. Do you have plans to write more books in the series, or are you working on a different project?

We have 3 upcoming Dance-It-Out! books assigned to illustrators: Eka Adopts an Elephant, The Grumpy Goat, and Frankie’s Wish. Our latest series of how-to ballet books for kids 8+ debuts with Dance Stance this spring.

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Two Ballerinas dance on the pages of this charming story of ballet passion.

“Overflowing with enthusiasm for ballet, this book is a celebration of all those who live with dance in their souls. Effervescent images of both Danika and Ballerina Konora will inspire children to mirror their movements both while reading the story and after it ends”. (—Mary Lanni, Librarian Reviewer)

Danika loves ballet. She translates each ordinary aspect of her life into a remarkable dance performance. Ballerina Konora (a professional ballerina) joins the fun with how-to instructions and photos for kids who want to dance along with Danika, Penelope the cat, and their animal friends.

This is book 12 of the Dance-It-Out! Collection of Creative Movement Stories, a series with numerous awards including PenCraft Award First Place, Mom’s Choice Gold Award, and Royal Dragonfly First Place. While each book is an independent story, Danika’s Dancing Day builds on concepts introduced in earlier stories, and it’s ideal for dance students or kids 5+. The series is a bit above typical language level as the stories are often enjoyed with a caregiver or teacher.

We Want Kids to Embody Joy, Breath, And Imagination

Once Upon A Dance Author Interview

Andi’s Valentine Tree follows a child that wants nothing more than to dance, they befriend a tree that helps teach their classmates about kindness. What was the inspiration for your story?

The stories in this series (Andi’s Valentine Tree is book 13) are all developed around kids’ favorite stories when I taught children’s dance classes. The kids lit up when it was story time and asked for the same stories over and over again. It was funny because I’d work so hard to create something original for them and they’d be like, “Please, can you tell the [last-week’s] story.” Witnessing their joy in creating movement while using their imagination and being the star of their own show is my inspiration for the series.

I love that your series teaches dance along with the story. How do you approach this process, do you decide on the moves first, or do you write the story outline and fill in the dance moves after?

So far, the writing process has always initiated with some curriculum aspect from my dance classes, In the case of Andi’s Valentine Tree, the tree wanting someone to dance was one way we reviewed ballet vocabulary. So I started there and built the plot up around that idea.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For each of our stories, we want kids to embody joy, breath, and imagination as well as dance and movement. We appreciate kind characters that can be positive role models. Each book encourages kids to use the stories in a way that works for them, their bodies, and their space. Of course, in this story, the importance of bystanders showing support in difficult situations, celebrating individuality, and the value of forgiveness are themes I was happy to incorporate.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Danika’s Dancing Day was just released. There are a few Dance-It-Out! stories with illustrators that should be out by summer. We are wrapping up the debut in a new series for kids 8+, which will hopefully be out in March.

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Andi loves ballet and friends at the studio, but school is a different story. A squirrel named Lou and a remarkable tree provide much-needed comfort. Then something magical makes life even better. A touching story celebrating the beauty of nature, embracing one’s own passions, and forgiveness.
Ballerina Konora joins the pages with dance photos and suggestions for movement exploration. Three books in one: readers can enjoy the story, act out the tale in their own way, or try Konora’s suggested activities, designed by an award-winning ballet teacher to develop body awareness and movement knowledge. Each Dance-It-Out! story is a kids’ dance performance for the imagination stage. Andi’s Valentine Tree builds on previous Dance-It-Out! material and is ideal for ages 6+, dance students, or as a sequel to other stories.

Danika’s Dancing Day

This educational children’s book serves to instruct children on dancing while also delivering a very sweet story. I think it’s cute that Korona creates and demonstrates dance steps for every illustration and story plot whether or not it’s part of a dance. For example, when Danika has had all the fun she can have, she decides to lay down and take a nap. Korona shows readers how to do a sitting spin on the floor before demonstrating how to curl up for a nap.

The illustrations are beautiful and very realistic. Danika’s dress, while dancing with the vacuum, is gorgeous with an almost opalescent glow. All the illustrations are as bright and colorful throughout the book. I especially love the little woodland animals in the backyard. The illustrator has put a great amount of detail into the nature scenes, and every time I look, I spot something new: a bird, chipmunk, a dragonfly, cute little things I love picking out from the landscape.

There are extra dance instructions at the bottom of the page that provide extra content, and value, to the book but I found it hard to understand sometimes. I think that a good audience for this book is children between the ages of five and seven; kids who are likely highly energetic. This is why I think this book is best read with an adult who can read the instructional material that is provided. But older children will easily be able to take the time to learn the steps.

The dance instructions use dance terminology and are accompanied by visuals as well. The story is adorable, and young readers will enjoy the story as parents help them work on their dancing.

The illustration of Danika’s mother is beautiful and wholesome. This book is absolutely charming, and I love how the book serves the double purpose of instructing little kids on how to dance. It makes me wonder if I would have loved dancing more if I read a book like this when I was a kid. I was not lucky enough to have an encouraging dance teacher; however, this book is full of positive, fun-loving vibes and delivers such a beautiful message.

Pages: 38 | ISBN: 1955555133

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Andi’s Valentine Tree

Andi loves to dance; all they can think about is ballet and dance class. Going to school is not fun; their classmates pick on them. Andi has two friends that they count on to make them smile, their squirrel named Lou and a unique tree that they name Gloriana. This tree comes alive for Andi, watching them dance each day. One day the school bullies follow Andi and try to hurt them. Gloriana moves her branches and protects Andi. The bullies yell that if Andi loves the tree so much, the tree can be their Valentine. When Valentines Day comes, Gloriana has a special surprise for Andi and their classmates.

Once Upon a Dance is a mother-daughter team that has created the Dance-It-Out series. This unique children’s book is more than just a cute story. It is choreographed with dance movements that children can do as they read through the story. There are beautiful photographs of each pose, and the story explains the movement’s name and how to do it as part of the narrative. The dance lessons are integrated right into the story. Even beginner dance students can pick up the basics by following along in this magical story. Emilia Rumińska breathtaking illustrations will draw readers in, while the photographs of Ballerina Kornora make the poses look easy.

Aside from the dance movement, this story tackles challenging topics like bullying, inclusion, and self-worth for younger children. Written for three to nine-year-olds, the topics are covered in a gentle manner that younger kids can understand. The authors did a great job explaining how Andi felt at school, and what they could do to feel better when they are lonely and anxious.

Andi’s Valentine Tree: A Dance-It-Out Creative Movement Story for Young Movers is an inspiring story put together in a uniquely creative way. The dance lessons and heartwarming story will make this children’s book appealing to a wide variety of readers.

Pages: 44 | ASIN : B09QS9QVT4

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Once Upon a Dance
Once Upon a Dance Author Interview

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute tells a creative story that gets kids dancing and exercising. How did the idea for this book come about?

As a dance teacher, I know the value of movement and expression. My daughter and I teamed up to try to keep cooped-up kids moving and active at home. The Dance-It-Out! collection—Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute is one of 10 books—are mostly expanded versions of stories I told in my dance classes. These were always the kids’ favorite part of the class, and I wanted to share the experience with a broader audience. This story is a collaboration with one of the instructors at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Marjorie Thompson, who was separately creating a story ballet, and we thought we’d team up.

What were some driving ideals behind the books development?

The story was created to be danced on stage, so it was an easy transition to create a children’s book with movement from the ideas. We infused even more movement into the Dance-It-Out version by adding the zombie ballet class and having the cats in dance-like poses. It’s full of movement themes and offers many opportunities for creating steps and shapes.

What is the collaboration process like between the authors to bring this book to live?

Marjorie, the original author, had a story draft. We whittled and edited that version together to create a book for her slightly older audience, then I infused that story with simpler movements and actions to make it accessible for younger kids.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

We hope to have 2 more Dance-It-Outs out this year including one about a spirited squirrel superhero. Some of the previous series favorites include Joey Finds His Jump! and Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn. We’re also working on audio books for the series and have 3 up on Amazon.

The Freya/Fynn sequel is in motion, and we have the same illustrator booked to start working on it in the new year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | | | Instagram | Twitter

Boisterous bats, zany zombies, and giddy ghosts await readers in this tale of sibling friendship, silly creatures, and magical music.

In the Dance-It-Out series, created by an award-winning dance teacherchildren act and move alongside the characters, and Ballerina Konora joins each page with movement suggestions. In this story, Fynn, Freya, cats, bats, ghosts, and zombies assemble for a captivating story of music, magic, and meyhem.

Movement, dance, and concepts include:
• Kicks
• Marches
• Jumps
• Rolls
• Bends
• First/Fifth position
• Shoulder lifts
• Lunges
• Tiptoes/Relevé
• Breath/Sighs
• Balancing on one foot
• Rocking/swaying
• Hand shapes such as fists/flat/pointer/curved fingers
• Sharp and smooth
• Emotions such as joy, shock, curiosity, and love
• Improv dance

Each Dance-It-Out story is an interactive kids’ storytelling adventure to ignite children’s movement, joy, and imagination. Ballerina Konora joins each page with optional movement and dance ideas and photographs.

The books can be used as a supplement for dance or theater studio classes or camps. Fynn, Freya, and the Fantastic Flute would be pair well with themes such as Halloween, cats, island-living, zombies, ghosts, music, camping, or magic.

The Dance-It-Out movement journeys are ideal for dance, pre-ballet, creative movement, preschool, daycare, early learning, physical education, homeschool, kindergarten, or first-grade activities. The full collection features male/female/nongendered and diverse characters. Books make a great gift for girls or boys interested in dance, ballet, gymnastics, or yoga, or reluctant readers who enjoy getting up and being active.

With kind characters, subtle life lessons, and a positive role model in Ballerina Konora, teachers love the kid-approved, ready-made, easy additions to curriculum and lesson planning. Children at home adore the stories that “young readers will return to again and again” (—Reedsy) offering “an innovative use of dance and storytelling” (—Kirkus Reviews).

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute : A Dance-It-Out Creative Movement Story for Young Movers (Dance-It-Out! Creative Movement Stories for Young Movers) by [Once Upon a Dance, Marjorie Thompson, Emilia Rumińska]

Freya, Fynn, And The Fantastic Flute by Once Upon a Dance is a cute children’s story with a unique interactive twist. In the story, we follow Freya and Flynn as they visit their eccentric Aunt Gail. Their aunt’s home is rumored to be haunted because you can often hear music and movement coming from the attic throughout the night. But is it true? Find out and get moving in Freya, Flynn, And The Fantastic Flute!

If I could use one word to describe this book, it would be ADORABLE! The mixture of dance/movement along with beautiful storytelling through writing and illustration adds something new to the children’s literature market. The author introduces a clever way to get kids moving and exercising and is a great way to have parents interact with their children. I enjoyed the story so much that I was sad when it ended and felt as though it ended abruptly. I wanted to know more about the creatures in the attic. The structure of the book leads me to believe there will be a sequel to this story, which I hope there is because this was a blast.

Freya, Fynn, And The Fantastic Flute is a fun children’s adventure book that will get kids moving through an ingenious combination of dance and storytelling. Parents and educators with young children needing to burn excess energy will find this book very handy.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B09K5XC9DD

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