Various Positions

Various Positions

Book - 2012
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When talented, dedicated fourteen-year-old Georgia Slade becomes a student in an elite Toronto ballet academy, her confusing feelings toward one of her teachers lead to disaster
Publisher: New York : Frances Foster Books, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374380861
Branch Call Number: YF Scha
Characteristics: 325 p. ; 22 cm


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Not your typical ballet student novel. The writing is literary. Another reviewer compared it to Sylvia Plath’s writing. I agree. It captures ideas as beautifully as poetry. And it makes me remember how brutal adolescence really can be.

A photo shoot for the cover of a ballet novel requires more than a pretty girl and a tutu. You need a ballerina. This model’s pointe shoe ribbons are sewn on too far forward. In other words she is not a dancer. This irks me. However, rest assured that the author has a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the ballet world. I was well satisfied on this point.

This novel was engrossing and a pleasure to read.

wendybird Sep 28, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed this book -- a cross between Alice Munroe's "Lives of girls & women" (coming of age, young Canadian woman) & "Black swan" (with its tensions between good & evil, grace & chaos). While it is set in a dance academy, it is not really a book about ballet, and it certainly isn't book for younger teens. The writing is witty, clever, funny & insightful. As Georgia grows, she learns painfully how quickly just a few well (or poorly) placed words can destroy : welcome to Adulthood.

Feb 24, 2012

A lot of novels and biographies about ballet emphasize its negative points. I found this book rare in that it made me love ballet more at the end of it. I found the story engaging and it was easy for me to get absorbed into the main character Georgia. It stuck in my head and gave me lots to think about. Also, the conclusion was very uplifting. Certainly the descriptive language is uncommon (in a good way), kind of like Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar.

Jan 21, 2012

I found "Various Positions" to be an enjoyable and surprising book in that it takes off in a direction that I had not at first anticipated. Its subject matter is more than that of the insular ballet world. The book successfully covers this elite backwater; however, it goes further by delving into the very short-lived period of adolescents' lives when many are ignorant (as in unknowing) in matters of sex, yet at the same time feel the rampant rise of sexuality and teenage hormones spiralling out of control. This book is an excellent read, and it is unfair to compare it with "Black Swan". Author Martha Schabas ably shows she is a remarkably insightful observer of human behaviour.

Jan 10, 2012

Stupid book.
Not about ballet.

Dec 20, 2011

A fair book, but I found the insights of the main character -- a 14-year old girl -- to be implausible (that is, mature) for her age. Her insights certainly didn't match her impulses (which were plausible for a 14-year old girl). As a result, the story felt forced to find balance between what to me was plausible and implausible.

ksoles Nov 17, 2011

Martha Schabas' first novel wastes no time in hooking the reader; by page six, "Various Positions" has already displayed its eloquence and corporeality.

With a handful of elite adolescents, Georgia Slade enters Toronto's Academy of Ballet and encounters Roderick, the merciless artistic director. The dance program bursts with psychological warfare as students must endure both Roderick's and each other's emotional bombardments. But callow, desirous Georgia soon discovers that ballet encompasses something more onerous than physical and mental hardship: sexual tension. Juggling her own longing with her erotic power, she hatches a crazy plan that climaxes in a perfectly forthright, sensitive and reflexive scene.

Although the lead-up to Georgia's outrageous act at times drowns in pornographic undertones, the novel ultimately personifies the kidnapping of innocence by surging hormones. Schabas's dialogue is extraordinarily tight, expressive and heart-breaking, filling the reader with a desire to comfort and protect the young protagonist. It may inspire controversy and resistance but "Various Positions" succeeds as a wonderfully courageous debut.

ElanaNicholls Oct 28, 2011

Not quite what I expected. I kept waiting and waiting for the pace to pick up, for something to happen. It never really did. It seemed a promising read but fell flat.

Jul 10, 2011

Smart, striking, and surprisingly sexual, ‘Various Positions’ is a book you’ll want to read. Ballet is about beauty, grace, perfection and 15 year old Georgia strives to achieve these virtues as she attends the exclusive Royal Toronto Ballet Academy. Georgia has the skill to because a Prima Ballerina but the pressures that all teenagers face – self esteem, acceptance, sexual awakening, all threaten to bring her world down.
Obviously there will be comparisons to the film ‘Black Swan’, but that shouldn’t deter you from reading this book. This story is mostly about a girl trying to cope with being a teenager and learning to navigate life. Being Canadian myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the book was set in Toronto. (Which mean yes, I picked this book up because of the cover). It was a great read, and a new and fresh look into the world of ballet. This is a great book that I’d recommend.


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Jul 10, 2011

tamaravh thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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