‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2016 With Kathryn Holmes

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Kathryn Holmes

Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was an avid reader and an aspiring writer from an early age. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs. She is the author of The Distance Between Lost And Found and How It Feels To Fly.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

When I dream about being a ballerina, I dream about The Nutcracker.

My last actual Nutcracker performance was in December 1999, my senior year in high school. These days, I dance a few times a week — but I haven’t slid my callused contemporary dancer’s feet into pointe shoes (other than as a joke) in almost fifteen years. I haven’t even taken a proper ballet class in more than a year. My extensions aren’t as high as they used to be. My pirouettes no longer stop on a dime. My footwork is not as quick and crisp. My leaps don’t float.

But when I dream about being a ballerina — when I dream about dancing in The Nutcracker — it’s all there. In my sleep, my muscles remember, and I soar.

Here’s how it usually plays out, in this dream-world: I’m traveling to my hometown for the holidays. I have tickets to see my childhood ballet company’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Before the day of the show, I find out that someone is injured, or can’t perform for some other reason. There’s no understudy. They need me to step in. I don’t hesitate. I go to rehearsal. I get fitted for my tutu. I arrive early on the big day to get in some extra warm-up time. I slick my hair into a bun and I paint on my stage makeup and, yes, I lace up my pointe shoes.

I don’t have delusions of grandeur. I’m not the Sugar Plum Fairy, or even an Act II soloist. I’m usually in the Snow scene or Waltz of the Flowers. I blend into the corps de ballet. I get carried away by Tchaikovsky’s music, by the bright stage lights, by the sound of my fellow dancers’ breath puffing and by the tapping of our pointe shoes against the Marley floor. In Snow, I glisten in icy blue and white, with flakes swirling in the air as I jump and spin. In Waltz of the Flowers, everything is cotton-candy pink and sparkling.

In my dreams, when I dance, I am transcendent.

At this time of year, the Nutcracker score is everywhere. It’s in TV advertisements and holiday-themed movies. It’s part of the Christmas shopping soundtrack, piped into upscale department stores and bargain basements alike. And then there are the seasonal concerts, kids’ dance recitals, and other festive events that crowd our social schedules in December. I got a surprise invite to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this past Sunday; there’s a mini-Nutcracker in that show, performed by dancing bears.

The Nutcracker is inescapable.

To be honest, I don’t mind. I saw my first Nutcracker at age five, and was mesmerized. I danced in it for seven years running, and wouldn’t trade the memories — not even the casting disappointments and costume malfunctions — for anything. When I hear the music, the choreography rushes back. So does the feeling of being a part of something huge: a show performed by dancers of all ages and styles and skill levels, all around the world, year after year after year. To me, The Nutcracker is holiday magic.

I may never dance in The Nutcracker again. If I do, I certainly won’t be wearing pointe shoes. Either way, I hope I’ll keep having Nutcracker dreams.

Title How It Feels To Fly
Author Kathryn Holmes
Pages 368 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
To Be Published June 14th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer — but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

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