Happy St Patrick’s Day – Irish Dance and a Proper Shamrock

Here is some Irish dancing (minus todays’ bizarre fashions) for you for St Patrick’s Day. This is Reel Around the Sun from Riverdance in 1996, just after Michael Flatley left to choreograph sexist things like the “Strip Jig“.

In this video Michael – I danced at Trump’s inauguration because nobody else would – Flatley has been replaced by the fantastic, nine-time World Champion Colin Dunne (to Flatley’s one title!). He comes onstage at about 2:25. Just watch his feet…

Before everyone gets drunk (the pub we’re planning to go to starts celebrations at **8am**!!), I’d like to remind people this is a shamrock:

lighter green shamrock

The three leaves have symbolism connected to the Holy Trinity and Saint Patrick.

And this thing with four leaves so many think is a shamrock is, in fact, not:

four-leaf clover-2075860__340


Also, happy birthday to my uncle, whose middle name just happens to be Patrick. I wonder why that is!


On this day: a Ballet Premiere



The romantic ballet La Sylphide premiered in Paris on the 12th of March, 1832. The ballet was created by Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni as a showcase for his ballerina daughter Marie, the dancer generally credited with being the first to ever dance en pointe.

As the original production was lost, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte used old records and images to recreate a new production for the Paris Opera in the 1970s.

This promotional photograph by Francette Levieux is from the revival. It features Michaël Denard as James and Ghislaine Thesmar in the title role. Thesmar is the wife of Lacotte.

The Ballerina’s Stand (A Chair at the Hawkins Table #4) by Angel Smits

The Ballerina's Stand (A Chair at the Hawkins Table #4) by Angel Smits

Love reaches far beyond words 

When she was growing up, a deaf child in foster care, dancing gave Lauren Ramsey a sense of belonging. Now she’s a prima ballerina with her own dance studio; everything’s finally going right. And then lawyer Jason Hawkins turns up and drops a bombshell: Lauren’s unknown father has left her a fortune. Well, Jason can take that money and shove it. Except…he can’t. Once he sees Lauren dancing, he can’t stay away…

The Ballerina’s Stand (A Chair at the Hawkins Table #4) by Angel Smits

If this had been a book about a former dancer-turned social worker, I think this would be close to a five-star read. The author clearly knows social work, and has clearly done a HUGE amount of research into sign language and the day-to-day issues a deaf person faces. I didn’t know how she was going to have a hearing hero who doesn’t know how to sign with a deaf heroine, but she pulled it off.

However, the book shows a lack of understanding of the sacrifice, dedication, and time it takes to be a professional dancer or athlete, which ultimately meant I could not love it.

The good? Heaps of it, if you forget the heroine is supposed to be an international ballet star.

The author finds a perfect balance in the communication. She creates a hero who cares enough to enrol in sign language lessons. He considers the obstacles, is frustrated by them, but is determined. It really makes you think, and makes you aware of all the different little ways a deaf person lives on a day to day basis.

She then adds layer upon layer of complications, giving the heroine an injury that totally takes away her ability to communicate, which terrifies her. She raises the stakes so well, and throws so many obstacles in her characters’ paths, but it never feels melodramatic. (Though sex straight out of the emergency room seems a little unlikely.)

She also makes use of so many different kinds of people, adding all sorts of diversity without making it preachy.

And it is always really nice to come across a hero who is a genuinely decent guy. He has fallen into this serious relationship before he even realises what has happened.

My problem with the book is this: the alleged world famous ballerina heroine NEVER trains!

Ballet is more than a full-time job. You dance from 10:30am to 10:30pm SIX DAYS A WEEK. And you do not do it on your own. You go to work the way other people go to the office (but put in double or triple the hours). You sign in at your “office”. You take company class in the mornings, rehearse with the company through to the evening, and then dance onstage with the company at night. You have teachers and coaches, whether you’re five or fifty-five.

And in between those dozens and dozens of hours of hard work there are costume fittings and photo shoots and media calls to attend, Pilates classes to take, physiotherapy appointments.

The hero  of this book was always working, but the heroine never did a thing. She spends the entire book meeting people for lunches, and hanging out with foster kids, and teaching children, and running her own business. Not once does she have anything to do with the ballet company she allegedly dances for.

Start this video at 1:40 to begin to get an idea of what it takes:

A day in the life of a principal dancer:

This book’s heroine goes weeks at a time without checking in at work! Nobody can do that, no matter how easy or mundane their job. She would always be considering her health, her diet and her fitness. You’re straight out of hospital? On crutches? Dying? Nine months pregnant? You still go into the company studio, and you still train for hours.

There are plenty of little mistakes about ballet throughout (little children don’t dance en pointe, and nobody has danced on a wooden stage for decades). A ballet career certainly doesn’t end at twenty-five, as implied here. Most of the ballet stars in the world today are over thirty.

Ultimately, this is a very good book about a lawyer and a *social worker*, not a book about a lawyer and a ballet dancer. I wish someone who knew the ballet world had given this a proofread, because it could have been a much more believable book.

Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!

Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalisingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!

But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!

Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

I’m really happy how many great Australian authors are emerging. If you’re a Sarah Mayberry fan, then you should look into this book. Both authors use Melbourne as a setting, both write contemporary-feeling characters who are actually recognisable as 20-30ish people from the 21st century (not a common thing in contemporary romance!), and both just genuinely write good books.

Only the Brave Try Ballet was very close to home for me, as it’s about an Australian Ballet soloist who becomes involved with an Australian Rules football player. Having worked in various capacities for The Australian Ballet, and having known AB soloists who actually did marry AFL players, I knew this book would go one of two ways for me. Either I’d love it, or I’d find so many faults with it I would go insane.

I’m happy that it turned out to feel very right to me, and that I really enjoyed it.

These are two great characters who get together, and I liked how the author seemed to know both her subjects (ballet and football) inside out. I liked pretty much everything, and would recommend the book to any romance fan.

There were two tiny things I want to mention. Firstly, I always hate it when non-American characters say ass instead of arse – we don’t do that!

Secondly, I don’t know how it is possible the heroine would be almost as tall as the hero. AFL players are giants. Ballet dancers are not – how in the world could she be a giant and then stand en pointe? She’d be twice the height of her partners!

However, that’s about it. If that’s as much as I can find to criticise in a book, then obviously it was a really good book. I’m looking forward to more from this author.

The Week: 11th – 17th November

Miserable Sydney 16th November 2013 Sonya Heaney

The closest thing to blue sky Sydney had to offer!

We just got back from Sydney, where we went to see The Australian Ballet (and also ate at Café Sydney – the setting for one of Sarah Mayberry’s books!). Good God does it rain a lot in Sydney!

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

I’ve gone through a lot of books this week, in an effort to try and catch up with all my review books. I’m doing okay so far.

My review of Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter

Provocative in Pearls (The Rarest Blooms #2) by Madeline Hunter

What in the world happened to Bridget Jones?

Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

My review of The House on Main Street by Shirlee McCoy

The House on Main Street by Shirlee McCoy

My review of Dancing On Air by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Dancing On Air by Nicole Hurley-Moore

The Week: 30th September – 6th October

Strange week. Public holidays everywhere, warm weather, wind, the start of daylight saving (and this one is never fun because you lose an hour!). I’ve been following the Australian Irish Dance Championships (which these days is so spray-tanned and covered in sparkles it might as well be a beauty pageant!) as well as the World Gymnastics Championships online.


Oksana Chusovitina, who was a World Champion for the USSR, an Olympic Champion for the CIS, a World Champion for Uzbekistan and an Olympic silver medallist for Germany competed in the vault final last night, coming fifth. It is an amazing achievement for a woman who is nearly forty and was competing many years before the other gymnasts were even born!

She has to be about the best athlete ever.

So, anyway…

Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross is still only 99 cents

 Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross

My review of Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

 Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

My review of Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain

 Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain

My review of Bride Gone Bad by Sabine Starr

 Bride Gone Bad by Sabine Starr

My review of Winters Heat by Cristin Harber

 Winters Heat by Cristin Harber

My Weekend

Giselle Paris Opera Ballet


We went to Sydney to see closing night of the Paris Opera Ballet’s Giselle over the weekend. Being the Paris Opera Ballet, of course the production was gorgeous and the dancers’ technique was perfect. Nolwenn Daniel, who danced the Queen of the Wilis, has the best bourrée I’ve ever seen! It is such a pity they performed in such a strange theatre, with neon lights and television screens in the foyer, and big, neon-lit Candy Bars INSIDE the auditorium. Ugh. Also, Act Two was kind of ruined by people’s phones ringing. UGH!

Paris Opera Ballet Giselle1


Such a pity too, because it was easily the best performance of the second act of Giselle I have ever seen. I can’t think of a company who could match the Paris Opera Ballet in that. So nice to see people dancing in the ‘Romantic’ style; practically everyone performs Giselle with flashy modern technique these days, and it does not suit.

 Paris Opera Ballet Giselle


There’s a really great Spanish restaurant near the theatre; there was a queue going halfway down the road before it opened. And the staff pronounce ‘Tapas’ and ‘Paella’ properly (which is something you almost never hear in Australia!). We accidentally tipped them three times what we intended to, but I’d say they deserved it!

Encasa Sydney

Apart from passing through the airport about a thousand times, I hadn’t spent time in Sydney for years. I don’t care either way, but I’ve never seen so many people with tattoos in my life as I saw in the city over the weekend! I guess it’s the fashion there. I’d never get one because, honestly, who voluntarily has people stab them with sharp things?! Not for me EVER!!

We stopped in the historic village of Berrima on the way home and had a great lunch at The Olde Magpie Café.

Magpie Cafe Berrima

Sydney is green; they get plenty of rain. Then you get closer home to Canberra, and you have things like Lake George, below. There’s not a lot of water, considering it’s a lake! My parents remember the days when people used to travel there with their boats on a weekend… Now you find cattle where the water is supposed to be!

Sonya Heaney Lake George Australia 10th February 2013