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Changing Partners

av Elizabeth Bernard

Serier: Satin Slippers (4)

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202878,807 (3.63)Ingen/inga
Dance! (25)
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Caramellunacy's review is also very good.

I'm adding my own (longer) summary/review for the benefit of those who don't remember this particuar "episode" in the series and would enjoy an entertaining recap.

Cover: First, I'm a big fan of ballet, even took some beginner's classes for a PE credit in college and LOVED it so I'm ashamed to say I don't recognize that lead-in pose Leah is attempting as being part of any basic dance step. A glissade is my best guess. That's Alex in the pink next to her.

I always liked this book because we meet the charismatic Andrei Levintoff for the first time and I admit I totally crushed on him while reading this series. He's one of E. Bernard's strongest characters. I was all for Andrei and Leah getting together in the end. FAIL Bernard!

According to Alex, Andrei is about 19 or 20. We learn he's tall with sandy hair and blue eyes. He's a true Russian defector: soulful, emotional and passionate not to mention a kick-ass dancer. And did I mention he drives a red Trans Am? Yeah, Leah's not the only one eyeing Andrei, the man is SFBA's first honest-to-God chick magnet!

And Alex has made it very clear Andrei is HERS. Hey, they're both from the old country, Leah thinks, so it's only fair that Alex gets him. Except Leah can't help the chemistry she feels going on between her and Andrei whenever they happen to be in the same room together. Like their very first night when Leah interrupted Andrei, bathed in the soft glow of candlelight, reading Alex's tea leaves in the boarding house kitchen. Andrei claims to see someone in the boardinghouse falling in love with a mysterious stranger who will change her life. Leah, already under the spell of those blue eyes, wonders if Andrei is talking about her.

Leah next sees Andrei at a party and even though he's already taken Alex out on two seperate dates, he leads her away outside for a very personal and private tete-a-tete. He's a total ladies man: chivalrously draping his jacket over Leah's shoulders when she gets cold, taking her hand when Leah tells him she lost her dad at a young age. They share their childhood backgrounds and admire the stars before the subject turns to dance. Leah tells Andrei about wishing on a star every night that she might grow up to be a real ballerina. Andrei tries it too then surprises Leah by kissing her on the cheek, just as Pam arrives to spoil the moment.

Madame Preston makes a special announcement. One of the SFBA girls will have a chance to perform with Andrei, in a pas de deux to be choreographed...by Andrei, as his partner, who will be specially chosen (you guessed it)...BY ANDREI!!!, for an upcoming performance to be presented by the school, in which Andrei will make his first American debut. Leah is sure Alex will be picked and is happy for her best friend.

Leah receives a note from Andrei the next day that basically says how nice it was to meet her, how much he enjoyed their talk and to meet him in a practice room at four today. The meeting turns out to be a dance-off between Leah, Pam and Alex. All received notes from Andrei but only one will be chosen to partner him. Pam hurts her knee, Alex is forbidden to dance with Andrei because this is 1987 and the fall of communisim is still a few years off, so, by simple process of elimination, Leah gets the part (oh, stop your groaning, you KNEW it would be Leah!).

Leah endures Alex's pouting and giving her the evil eye every time Andrei just happens to be hanging out with both of them while gushing over what a special person Leah is right in front of Alex. Leah merely focuses her attention on her rehersals with Andrei and tries not ot think about Alex's hurt feelings over the whole awkward situation.

Finally one day, after a rehersal, Alex can't take it anymore and chews Leah-the-bitch out for stealing her man AND her role. Leah tells her if it's such a problem maybe Alex should just ASK Andrei his reasons for picking her and not Alex.

Alex does just that. They must've known about an eavesdropping Leah hovering just outside the door because they quickly switch to Russian! Leah chances a quick peek just in time to see Alex getting a shoulder massage by Andrei before she turns and throws her arms around his neck. Embarrassed to have witnessed such an intimate moment, Leah slinks away realizing she wants Andrei to see her not just as a dancer but also as a GIRL!
Fortunately for Leah, Andrei is a heterosexual!

One week later, Leah is still having qualms over their pas de daux. Andrei reassures her she's perfect. They do the dance again. Leah can feel it working for her. Andrei must've felt it too because he kisses her RIGHT ON THE LIPS! Luckily Kay (and not Pam) happens to catch them this time . Kay is there because Leah and Kay made plans to see a movie together. Andrei invites himself along and sits between the girls. In the darkened theater, he breifly lays his head on Leah's shoulder and the sparks fly every time their hands touch in the popcorn bowl. Cute!

Alex bursts into tears when she hears about this "date". Leah isn't sure what to say other than "I'm sorry but he's just not that into you, (he's into me!!!squeeeee!)"

Finally its opening night of the student production. Leah looses herself in Andrei's dance (titled Circles) the chemistry is there and its a total success with the audience going apeshit raining flowers and applause and standing ovations over them. Andrei presents Leah with a bouquet and, like you, I'm screaming "Leah's NOT a principal artist with a professional dance company, she's just a fifteen-year old STUDENT!"

During the after-party everyone is gushing all over Leah's performance before Pam spoils it all by breaking the news that Andrei is ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED! Completely crushed by this news, Leah goes off by herself to pound the wall and cry over her unrequited love. She discovers an emo-ing Alex has also taken refuge in the stairwell to have her own cry. Andrei finds them both sulking together. Leah promptly chews Andrei out for acting the tool: holding hands with her, spouting poetry, telling her how wonderful she is, KISSING HER!!! then what does he do? He plays the enagement card on them! What a jerk. Leah collapses sobbing into Alex's arms while Andrei gently explains to the girls that he never meant anything but friendship towards them both, he was just lonely and homesick. I don't believe that for a minute, we all knew Andrei had a wandering eye and is destined to become a bigamist.

But all is forgiven and Andrei invites them to go bar-hopping as three friends enjoying an innocent night on the town. Leah remembers the tea leaves, decides maybe she can get over her feelings for Andrei and get lucky tonight! ( )
  MML30 | Aug 2, 2009 |
After a brief trip home Leah returns to her boarding house to discover her best friend Alexandra Sorokin in a tete-a-tete with her childhood friend (and famous Russian emigre) Andrei. Jealousies complicate Leah's already difficult life as Alex is convinced Leah is trying to steal her boyfriend while Leah firmly believes Alex is reading too much into Andrei's friendly behavior. Besides, she is beginning to feel drawn to him herself. Soon the school splits into 'sides', and matters are made even worse when both Alex and Leah are rivals for a coveted dance spot opposite Andrei.

A bit of a facile portrayal of how fifteen-year-olds react when a new handsome young man captures their fancy - and their friends'. The scenes between Alex and Leah are strained at best, and the ending wraps up a little too picture-perfect and forgiving, but the parts describing the dancing (classes and performances) truly captured my imagination despite some awkward or stilted writing, and I only read these books for the ballet anyway.

Added 2008-02: I really enjoyed the imagery Andrei used when he was choreographing. It made the feel of the steps easier to see in the mind's eye than when the author just talks about steps. I did miss most of the regular classes, though. And I know Leah is the heroine and Pam is the 'evil' girl, but it seems really rough that she never can catch a break. Clearly I have gotten too old for this series if I'm starting to think that...
They were fun, nostalgic reads, but I find Leah irritates me more than I remember.

Also posted at my blog. ( )
  Caramellunacy | Sep 9, 2007 |
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Alex turned away from him, but he continued to talk to her anyway in a low, soothing tone. Then he began to massage her shoulders. Slowly, slowly a smile came to Alex's lips. She leaned back against him ever so slightly, then she turned around and put her arms around his neck and said something back.
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