Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became The Bookmobile Ballerina

Another great one we recently read; books + ballerinas, what more could you ask for?! Sylvia Townsend was a natural at dance; she could leap, twirl, and plie with the best of them, but lessons didn’t come cheap. Fashioning slippers and a tutu out of found materials from her home, Sylvia improvised. When she wanted to learn new technique, in the absence of a ballet school, she turned to her local library and sought out every book about ballet. Affectionately referred to as “the bookmobile ballerina,” Sylvia’s talents became neighborhood news, and other kids began seeking her out to teach them ballet. 

When her 4th grade teacher noticed her talents, she attempted to enroll Sylvia in a local ballet school, but the school declined, stating that only white students were allowed. Eventually, Sylvia prevailed, and despite all of the unfair setbacks she encountered, caught the attention of a famous Russian ballet teacher, Madame Sawicka. She rose to fame as a ballerina and inevitably opened up her own ballet studio, helping to ensure the next generation of aspiring dancers had space and opportunity to do so.

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