It's Day 2 of Dance Appreciation Week! Today, I have a guest post by the lovely Sonia Fuderer in which she discusses why she dances (and in turn, why all dancers dance) and why she chose for her MC to be a dancer. Enjoy!
Why Do We Dance?
More specifically, why does Reese, my main character, dance? The simple answer to that question is because I was a dancer. Yet, it’s so much more than that.
When I set out writing The Last Flock, I felt a strong desire to keep everything that happened in the story possible, which meant it was important to keep the character’s reactions real. In my book, there’s a biological attack which forces a family to drop everything and flee to save themselves and they end up living for a year in an underground shelter, and, as if that wasn’t already too much to handle (spoiler alert!) the eldest son doesn’t make it in time. If these things were happening to me, I thought over and over about how I would’ve dealt with it all, back when I was seventeen. What would I have done? I would have danced.
Dancing was always more than art for me…more than a hobby, too. It was my escape, my consistency. No matter what was happening in my life, I could lace up my pointe shoes, crank up the music at the studio, and let go. I could get lost in the music, the movements, and their connection. For those who have danced, I’m sure you’ve felt the same way.
During high school I spent four nights a week, plus Saturday mornings, at my dance studio and never got sick of it. I never sighed and dragged myself there. It was just the opposite - I couldn’t wait to go. I loved the girls I danced with, the ones I taught, and especially my own teachers. There’s an incredible bond that forms from working so hard together, for so long. Fixing each other’s hair for recital and competitions; picking glitter off each other’s clothes; pinning and taping parts of costumes for each other; freaking out when you can’t find a shoe or you find a run in your tights and it’s time to go on stage...these are all fond memories. I’ve heard many people remark about the friendships formed in a locker room and I feel it’s the same for dancers. Although we weren’t working together to win a game, we were working together to create a work of art.
Dance takes an enormous amount of dedication and strength. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is, how hard we practice, in an attempt to make it look effortless. Even though I hung up my pointe shoes years ago I still catch myself zoning out while listening to a song on the radio because I’m picturing the dance. I’m literally choreographing the moves in my mind. “Human” by Christina Perri and “All of Me” by John Legend have both elicited chills recently, as a result of the dances I see in my head.
Escape comes in many forms, and for Reese I chose one that I’m familiar with. For some it might be reading, video games, sports, drugs, alcohol…anything to disconnect from reality for a period of time. When I wrote in the story that Reese had brought her dance gear with her, I was actually drawing on a personal experience…
When I went away to college, I was homesick. I was two hours from home and didn’t know anyone besides my new roommate. One lonely weekend I stumbled upon a dance studio on the second floor of a gym on campus and that changed everything for me. I had, of course, packed my dance gear, and once I was able to shut the door on everything else and dance, I finally felt like myself again. I guess I didn’t realize how much I had missed dancing until, in that studio, I felt complete. There’s something about dancing that becomes a part of who you are. That’s the best way I can explain why I wrote Reese as a dancer. When her world was taken away, when it was suddenly filled with fear, sadness, and uncertainty, I kept thinking, what would be enough to help her through this? How can she escape and find normalcy at the same time? She would dance.
I mentioned earlier that I hung up my pointe shoes, and I meant that literally…in my daughter’s room, before she was born. You can imagine my elation now that she has started her dance journey, especially because she absolutely loves it. Elation not just for the years of classes, recitals, costumes, competitions, and everything else ahead of her; but immense joy that in exchange for all of her hard work and dedication she will be rewarded with grace, strength, friendships, and in the moments when she finds herself alone, surrounded only by the music which inspires her movement, she will be complete.
(Sonia's own picture, featuring young dancers!)
About The Last Flock:Seventeen-year-old Reese survived cancer as a child, but when a biological terrorist attack is unleashed on America, she finds herself fighting for her life again - spending what should've been her senior year of high school sealed in a shelter below the Rocky Mountains. Her broken family struggles to adjust to this new life, one without her missing older brother, and the only bright spots are the friendships that form below. Even falling in love with fellow shelter-dweller Lucas comes at a price - reconciling with the awful reality that everyone she left above, including her boyfriend, has perished.
Making matters worse, Reese begins to suspect Joshua, the inspirational and charismatic founder of the shelter, has not gathered their group below entirely by chance. As fear and doubt bloom in the community, Reese embarks on a mission to discover what secrets Joshua is hiding. What she uncovers is unimaginable: the greatest threat may not be in the outside world at all, but instead sealed in the shelter with them. With uncertainty breaking bonds, Reese must decide what to do with the information she has uncovered, and most crucially, who to trust.
About Sonia Fuderer:
She has the incredible honor of being the mother of two of the most amazing kids in the world. They keep her busy, make her laugh, fill her with pride, give purpose to her life, and help her stay grounded.
She taught elementary education for several years before turning her attention to running an after-school program for kids who needed some extra academic help. She started writing The Last Flock in the summer of 2013, after being scared by a TV show.
She loves writing, dancing, knitting, reading, the color blue, peach mango tea, cats, the fall, weddings, fruit, cheering on the Cincinnati Bengals (Who Dey!) and UNC Tar Heels, pedicures, Sour Patch Kids, yoga, Jillian Michaels workouts, watching my daughter dance, listening to my son read and tell jokes, and being married to the best husband in the world.