A Time To Dance

Paperback | May 12, 2015

byPadma Venkatraman

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Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
 
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

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From the Publisher

Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience...

Padma Venkatraman (www.padmasbooks.com) is an oceanographer by training and a writer by choice. Her critically acclaimed novels Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End were both ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Booklist Editor's Choice BBYAs, Amelia Bloomer list selections and CCBC choices, in addition to winning several other honor...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.22 × 5.44 × 0.82 inPublished:May 12, 2015Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147514401

ISBN - 13:9780147514400

Customer Reviews of A Time To Dance

Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Stinks I would never read the book again. The medical errors were extensive, as well as grammatical errors. Also when *someone* dies, I get the feeling that the Veda was barely sad. And next time I would advise write the book in ENGLISH! I short, it stunk worse than 9 year old fish.
Date published: 2015-07-25

Extra Content

Read from the Book

PROLOGUETemple of the Dancing GodClinging to the free end of Ma’s sari,I follow the tired shuffle of other pilgrims’ feetinto the cool darkness of the templewhere sweat-smell mingles with the fragrance of incense. Pa’s hand rests heavy on my curls.The priest drops a pinch of sacred ash into Ma’s palmand she smears it on my foreheadabove the red dotshe paints between my eyebrows each morning. I push through the rustling curtain of women’s sarisand men’s white veshtis,tiptoeing to see better.A bronze statue of Shiva,four-armed God of dance, glistens.He balances on His right leg alone,His left raised parallel to earth,the crescent moon a sparkling jewel He wearsin His matted hair. Carved high into the temple’s granite walls,I spy other celestial dancers.“Pa?” I tug at my father’s shirt.He lifts me onto his shouldersbut the sculptures aretoo far away to touch. After the crowd empties outinto the sunshine of the temple courtyardI, alone,slip backinto the soft blackness of the empty hall,spot a step-ladder propped againstmy dancer-filled walland climb. Up, up, up, to the very top.Leaning forward, I tracedancing feetwith my fingertips. “What are you doing, little one?” A prieststeadies my ladder. “You don’t have to climbladders to reach God.He dances within all He creates.Come down.”I run my fingersalong the curveof each stone heel. The priest’s laugh rumbles up into my ears.“Place a hand on your chest.Can you feel Shiva’s feet moving inside you?”I press on my chest. Feel bony ribs. Under them, thumping,faint echoes of a dancing rhythm: thom thom thom.Shiva outside me, gleaming in the temple sanctum.Yet also leaping hidden, inside my body. “God is everywhere. In every body. In everything.He is born, at different times, in different places,with different names.He dances in heaven as Shiva, creator of universes;He lived on earth as Buddha,human incarnation of compassion;And as you can see, he moves within you.Now, please, come down, little one.” I’m half-way down the ladder when Pa and Ma rush back in.Pa prostrates, laying his squat body flat on the stone floor, thanking God.Ma thanks the priest,words of gratitude bursting from her like sobs.“Searched—the other four temples—couldn’t find her-—so scared—what if she’d left the temple complex——run outside the walls— into the city—”As we leave, Ma’s thin fingers pinch my shoulderstight as tongs roasting rotis over an open flame.Pa scolds, “You could have burst your headclimbing a ladder like that!” My head is burstingwith imagesof stone dancers come alive, the tips of their bare toes twirlingwith soundsof the tiny bells on their anklets twinklingwith music. A TIME TO DANCEHoping and WaitingI race upstairs,kick my sandals off outside our front door,burst into our apartment. “I’m in the finals!”My grandmother, Paati,surges out of the kitchen like a ship in full sail,her white sari dazzlingin the afternoon light that streams through our open windows.I fling my arms around her.Drink in the spicy-sweet basil-and-aloe scent of her soap.Paati doesn’t say congratulations. She doesn’t need to.I feel her words in the warmth of her hug. “I knew you’d make it.” Pa plucks meout of Paati’s embrace into his arms.“Finals of what?” Ma says.I’ve only been talkingabout the Bharatanatyam dance competitionfor months.Mostly to Paati, and to Pa, but Ma’s hearing is perfectand we don’t live in a palace with soundproof walls. Paati retreats into the kitchen.Paati’s told me she doesn’t think it’s her placeto interfere with her son and daughter-in-law.Pa’s eyes rove from Ma to me,caught in the middle as always. Ma’s diamond earrings—the only reminder of her wealthy past—flash at me like angry eyes.“Veda, you need to study hard.If you don’t do well in your exams this year—”For once, my voice doesn’t stick in my throat. “I am studying hard.To be a dancer.I’m not planning to become an engineer. Or a doctor.”Or any other profession Ma finds respectable.Ma launches into her usual lecture. “Dancing is no career for a middle-class girl.You need to study something useful in college so you can get a well-paid job.”I sigh extra-loud.My dance teacher, Uday anna, isn’t rich. Buthis house is larger than ours.Clearly, he earns more thanMa at her bank job and Pa at his library.Ma goes on and on.Back when I was younger, I’d struggle to be better at schoolfor Ma’s sake.But numbers and letters soon grew too large for me to hold,and I grew far away from themand Ma grew out of patience. Paati places steaming sojji, my favorite snack, on our table.The sweet, buttery smell of cooked semolina is temptingbut I leave the plate untouched.March into the bedroom Paati and I share.Slam the door.Pa knocks. Says, “Come out, Veda. Eat something.”“Leave her alone,” Ma says. “She knows where to find food if she’s hungry.” I probably shouldn’t have slammed the door.But Ma never even said congratulations.She’s never pretended my dancing made her happy.But never has a performance mattered more to methan being chosen for the finals of this competition.All my life, Ma’s beenhopingI’ll do well at science and mathematicsso I could end up becoming what she wanted to be:an engineer. All my life, I’ve beenwaitingfor her to appreciate my loveof the one thing I excel at:Bharatanatyam dance. Speaking with Hands “Steps came to you early. Speech came late,” Paati said.She’d tell how she watched me pull myself up by the barsof my cradle at eight months,eager to toddle on my own two feet.Months before others my age, she said,I could shape thoughts with my fingers.My body wasn’t shy.While words stumbled in my throat,losing their way long before they reached my lips,like lotus buds blossoming, my hands spoke my first sentencesshaping themselves into hasta mudras:the hand symbols of Indian classical dance. Paati said, “It was as if you rememberedthe sign language of Bharatanatyamfrom a previous life you’d lived as a dancerbefore being reincarnated as my granddaughter.” Paati always understood everything I said with my hands. Dance PracticeI’m a palm tree swaying in a storm wind. My dance teacher, Uday anna,sits crosslegged on the groundtapping beats out onhis hollow wooden block with a stick. I leap and land on my sure feet,excitement mounting as Uday anna’s rhythm speedschallenging me to repeat my routine faster.My heels strike the ground fast as firesparks.Streams of sweat trickle down my neck.My black braid lifts into the air, then whips around my waist. Nothing else fills me with as much elationas chasing down soaring music,catching and pinning rhythms to the ground with my feet,proud as a hunter rejoicing in his skill. The climax brings me to the hardest pose of all:Balancing on my left leg, I extend my rightupward in a vertical split.Then I bend my right knee, bring my right foot near my earshowing how, when an earring fell off as he danced,Shiva picked it up with his toesand looped it back over his earlobe. Locking my breath in my chest to keep from trembling,I push myself to hold the posefor an entire eight beat cycle.A familiar thrill shoots up my spine.I enjoy testingmy stamina, my balance. Uday anna’s stick clatters to the floor. He claps.“Pull that off and you’re sure to win.” Both feet on the ground again, I piroutte and leap,rejoicing in the speed at whichmy body obeys my mind’s commands,celebrating my strong, skilled body—the center and source of my joy,the one thing I can count on,the one thing that never fails me.

Editorial Reviews

"Venkatraman has created a rich, exotic, and fully human world that dazzles and delights. Her way with prose reflects Veda's with dancing: 'Nothing else fills me with as much elation as chasing down soaring music' This novel accomplishes exactly that."--Providence Sunday Journal"[A] powerful depiction of a teen girl struggling to recover from an accident."--The Chicago Tribune* " Set against a cardamom, melted butter, and semolina sojji-wafted landscape, the novel’s emotional expression and accompanying music impel the reader to share Veda’s belief that “Shiva dances everywhere. In everyone. In everything.”--Booklist, starred review* " A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection.”--Kirkus Reviews, starred review * “ Told in verse, this story is magnificently strong as Veda’s determination dances off the page and into the reader’s heart.”--VOYA, starred review * “This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their place in the world.”--School Library Journal, starred review — various