I picked up Forbidden Dance vol. 1 (manga) by Hinako Ashihara because it looked shoujotastic and I was in the mood for a lighter read. It caught my eye because it's about ballet, and my dad used to take us to the ballet. I even did it for one or two years as a child. (There is a very high chance that I was the worst student in the class.)
Aya is a student ballerina recovering from a fall. The real damage was not to her foot, but to her psyche. She's had a case of stage fright ever since. But her passion for dance is reignited when she views a performance by COOL, a ballet troupe. She decides that she wants to dance alongside the lead, Akira, whose power and charisma impress her. He agrees that she can join COOL if she can win a particular dance competition--even if COOL is an all-male troupe. Along the way, we have shenanigans (Aya's determination leads her to feed one of the dancers laxatives so she can take his place onstage--!!!) and deviousness and glimpses of unexpected motives.
This is not a deep manga, but it's sweet, stylized, and melodramatic, which is exactly what I wanted out of it. There are notes from the mangaka, my favorite of which was the following:
Ashihara's Diary No. 2
I don't have any big reason why I decided to write a story related to ballet. I was never a serious fan of ballet. Because I have read some old ballet stories in the past, I began to wonder what kind of ballet story I could create. Then I decided to give it a try, only to find that it was foolish of me to jump into the unfamiliar genre. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was knocking my head against a brick wall. To tell you the truth, I had no knowledge of ballet when I started the series. But it was too late to cancel the project. I forced myself to learn about ballet by reading and watching videos. It was not until I went to see ballet practice at a local ballet school that I started to come up with ideas about dancers and movement. Ballet is more fascinating than I ever thought. Not all ballet performances are that great, but it's much better to see ballet in the theater than on TV. I so recommend that you go to a theater to appreciate this great art when you have a chance.
Her earnestness and honesty just tickles me here.
Anyway, there's a dramatic twist at the end of vol. 1, and I have vols. 2-4 checked out (it's complete in four volumes), so I look forward to reading more!
The last ballet-related anime or manga I consumed was, I think, Princess Tutu. What else is out there? Anyone have recommendations? General dance is fine, too (I do ballroom/social dance)! :D