Niagara Gazette

Features

February 25, 2013

Best selling author's new book inspired by Bev Feder's School of Ballet

Niagara Gazette — Four nights a week, Cathy Buchanan would walk down a stairwell, past the bomb shelter sign — a remnant of the building’s previous incarnation — into the basement room with thin hardwood floors and pale pink walls.

There, the girl from Niagara Falls, Ont. would dance with the Feder School of Classical Ballet.

On the walls of the studio, still directed by Beverley Feder, but now located at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, were prints created from the brush strokes of 19th Century French artist Edgar Degas. Buchanan felt a certain fondness for the pretty ballerinas of his paintings.

“They weren’t always on the stage. A lot of times they were doing exactly some of what I was doing,” she says.

Buchanan is 49 now, living in Toronto with her husband and three boys. And lately, she’s been talking a lot about that studio and those prints.

In a way, they planted a creative seed that, over many years and a lifetime of experience, grew into her latest bestselling book, “The Painted Girls.” 

The historical novel tells a fictional tale of a young ballerina girl named Marie, who was the model for Degas’ sculpture, Little Dancer Aged 14.

It comes about three years after her first novel, “The Day the Falls Stood Still,”  a New York Times bestseller.

Buchanan took a rather circuitous route to that first book. Indeed, high school was all about math and science. English was her worst subject. She took it, “because I had to.

“If someone in high school had told me I’d be a writer one day, I’d have laughed in their face.”

Feder remembers Buchanan as a serious dance student and was delighted to learn that the young girl, who took classes as often as five times a week throughout high school, was so influenced by her time at the Falls dance studio. “It’s very rewarding for me as a teacher,” Feder said. “We never know how we impact our students.”

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