James the beagle was a real dog. His master and mistress worked with the National Ballet of Canada, and between 1961 and 1972 he went with them to the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater where the dancers performed. Perhaps this is what James dreamed about when he lay quietly on the floor, his eyes fastened on the twirling dancers.
From puppyhood James wanted to dance. Now, he certainly helped the dancers. He practiced their lifts with them. He helped them keep their figures trim by sharing their lunches. He allowed himself to be patted as a good luck talisman before the dancers went on stage. But this was not enough for James. In his heart he longed to be a dancer himself, to soar across the stage, the spotlight on him.
One day the notice is posted that the company is to perform Giselle. The ballet includes a meaty role for a hunting dog, and James is sure that his moment has come. But the role goes instead to a long-legged wolfhound. James is left out in the cold. That is, until the wolfhound gets stage fright.
About Linda Maybarduk
Linda Maybarduk was born in New York City and raised in Orlando, Florida. Educated at the National Ballet School in Toronto, she was a first soloist with the company. When Nureyev became associated with the National Ballet of Canada, they danced together and grew to be close friends. Nureyev stayed with Maybarduk whenever he was in Toronto, her sons were as close as nephews, and her daughter was his godchild. Linda Maybarduk is now retired from dance and lives in Toronto with her husband and children.
About Gillian Johnson
Gillian Johnson grew up in Winnipeg. She competed nationally in speed skating, but quit to finish university. She has given swimming lessons in Churchill and was a canoeing instructor in Flin Flon. She’s taught English in Czechoslovakia and high school in Ottawa. Throughout, she has drawn and written. Her first book, Saranohair, was awarded Honorable Mention for the Graphics Prize at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. My Sister Gracie, published in 2000, was awarded the Alcuin Design Award and has earned fans in Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland and Venezuela. She has collaborated with author Richard Scrimger, providing the illustrations for their books about Baby Bun Bun, which include, most recently, Eugene’s Story. She also illustrated Dennis Lee’s The Cat and the Wizard. Gillian Johnson lives with her husband, writer Nicholas Shakespeare, and their sons in Tasmania and England.