Denise Gruska likes kids, and
dogs, and books. And hammocks. And blueberries. She was born
on the east coast, but went west when she was ten. Well, her
parents moved to California, and they were kind enough to take
her along. She still misses the way the trees blush red, orange,
and yellow every fall. She does NOT miss shoveling snow out
of the driveway.
Denise loves words, and uses them
relentlessly. Her mother claims that she always knew that Denise
would be a writer because when she was a baby her favorite thing
to do was to open a book and smell it. Fortunately, since then,
Denise has learned how to read. And write, which is good because
she is hard at work on her next children's book, which is called
I Don't Wanna Go To School.
The first thing that happened was that my son was born dancing. He
used to twirl his feet endlessly in his little infant carrier. Then
when he was learning how to walk, he used to go up on pointe, and I
don't mean on tip-toe like the rest of us, but on the very tops of his
toes, like a dancer. He would never just walk down a hallway, he would
spin. He wouldn't just jump over a slumbering pet, he would jete. So when the time came to find
a dance class for him, my husband and I took him to a place
that came highly recommended. The problem was that he was the
only boy in the class. Since he didn't seem to mind, we
decided that we didn't mind either. But the other parents
would look at us like How could you put a boy in ballet class—how
you do this to your son? We would think back, But how could
we not do this for our son—he loves to dance.
Many ballet studios later, we found
a wonderful dance class for my son, with its very own class
just for boys.
The second thing that happened
was that I kept running into little boys whose sisters were
taking class while they were waiting, bored and listless, outside.
I would ask them if they liked to dance too. So much of the
time, they would whisper Yes, but dancing is for girls. That
did it. I decided to write a book for children trying to help
normalize dance for boys. It's a wonderful thing to do no matter
what you do with it later on-whether it's more dance, football,
or any other sport. Even if all it teaches you is how to walk
into a room with your head held high.
Sir Ken Robinson talks about how
schools tend to devalue creativity by teaching from the neck
up, and a little to one side (see links). He goes on to say
that since we all have bodies, we should aim to teach dance
as thoroughly as we teach mathematics. I, too, believe that
dance is good for everyone, body and soul. Even though I'm lousy
at it. Besides, if I want to see some good dancing, I can always
watch my son spin around the house.