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Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Title: A Time to Dance
Author: Padma Venkatraman
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Pub. Date: May 1, 2014
Genre: Young Adult; Verse; Contemporary
Rec. Age Level: 12+
Pages: 320
More by this author: Climbing the Stairs

Goodreads / Buy It

Veda is a talented dancer of growing acclaim, but her dreams are shattered after a car accident results in the amputation of one of her legs. In the aftermath, Veda must decide if she has the courage and strength to accept her changed body and whether she will continue to pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional bharatanatyam dancer. Told entirely in verse, this exploration of faith, resilience, and traditional Indian dance will surely inspire readers to reach for their dreams, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Before reading A Time to Dance I knew next to nothing about traditional Indian dance, but my interest was piqued as I read Veda's story. Venkatraman does a phenomenal job of describing the different poses and stances that Veda must learn to remaster after her accident. After I finished reading, I wanted an even clearer image of Veda's challenge, so I tracked down some videos of bharatanatyam dancers. Watching these videos provided me with an even greater appreciation of Veda - I can't imagine holding many of those poses with two natural limbs; adjusting to a prosthesis, no matter how cleverly designed, would be a no easy feat. Veda is truly dedicated to her craft and I found her commitment inspiring.

 Veda works with an American doctor that is determined to design her a custom prosthetic that will allow her to perform all poses required of a bharatanatyam dancer. It's exciting that modern medicine can allow for something as amazing as giving Veda the option to once again pursue dance... Not so long ago, Veda might not have ever walked again, let alone danced. Again, watching the dance videos gave me a greater understanding of how impressive Veda's prosthesis truly was - no small amount of flexibility is required for the traditional bharatanatyam poses, but, with practice, her prosthesis allowed her to complete and hold each.

In some ways, Veda's accident was a blessing in disguise - an admittedly horrible disguise, but still. Losing her limb forced Veda to reevaluate her life and the way in which she related to her faith and to dance. She gained a greater appreciation for her body. She learned to value more about herself than just her skill as a dancer. Veda grows and matures during the course of this novel; there are times she lets herself feel horrible and she throws a pity party or two, but, in the end, she refuses to give up. 

A Time to Dance shouldn't be missed.  

Here's a video of a bharatanatyam dancer:


  1. Sounds like a very good read

  2. Wow! I'm so glad you included the video on this one. I want to go back and do a reread now that I've seen it and can better grasp the level of difficulty she had to work through. Great review!


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