A couple of weeks ago two of my favourite things collided – books and ballet! I’ve actually had a copy of Kerri Turners debut novel, ‘The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers’ sitting on my beside table for months. So when I heard Kerri would be in town, I thought it would be an opportune moment to not only take some time out for myself and actually read this incredible book, but also interview Kerri for the podcast.
When I sat down with Kerri I was half-way through the book and now that I’ve finished, I would like to say, ‘WOW!’ What a read. I thoroughly enjoyed this one guys and if you’re an adult ballerina this is a book you won’t want to put down.
Set in Petrograd in 1914, the novel is about two Imperial Russian Ballet dancers who fall in love during World War 1. Now if like myself, ‘Petrograd’ doesn’t ring a bell… it’s also known as Saint Petersburg, home of the Marinsky Theatre. The city has changed it’s name back and forth and during 1914 it was known as Petrograd. There you go, you learn something new every day – or at least I have!
I had an absolute ball reading this book as I learnt so many new things about the ballet world! I truly didn’t know, until now, just how luxurious and wealthy the life of a ballet dancer was back then. Very different to todays standards! And I had no idea that most Principle Ballerinas had what they called a ‘protector’ – someone that paid for their lifestyle and influenced the theatre and their roles in the company in exchange for sharing their bed. Kerri carefully uses actual famous ballerinas of this time mixed with fictional characters to share this side of the ballet world, so it truly is an incredible insight.
The book is definitely not for young children. I’d say it would be okay for the teenagers. But this is the precise reason why I think any adult ballerina will absolutely LOVE this read. So many books written about ballet are targeted at children, so it’s nice to have a little scandal and romance for the older age bracket of ballet lovers.
Kerri and I chat about her writing process, her own ballet journey (she now teaches adults!) and the wonderfully exciting world of ballet in the early days! I really enjoyed this conversation and I think you will too.