Woodbury resident and Ballet Minnesota director releases children’s book about balletWoodbury resdient, and Ballet Minnesota director, Andrew Rist combined his two passions of writing and ballet in 2009 when he released his first children’s book “At the Museum: Adventures of the Ballerina Girls.” Rist’s second book, “Nightmare,” which also involves the “Ballerina Girls," was released last this month.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Ballet hasn’t been Andrew Rist’s only lifelong pursuit.
“I’ve written all my life,” the Woodbury resident and Ballet Minnesota director said. “I just enjoy it like people enjoy sewing or people enjoy reading.”
Rist combined his two passions in 2009 when he released his first children’s book “At the Museum: Adventures of the Ballerina Girls.”
Rist’s second book, “Nightmare,” which also involves the “Ballerina Girls," was released last this month.
‘The Ballerina Girls’
Rist’s books initially started out as ballets that he had written for Ballet Minnesota.
“I wanted to do a story on ballet dancers because I’m familiar with ballet,” he said. “I see these dancers, I see their hopes, their dreams and their fears – I know how they feel.”
Rist said he decided to turn the ballets into children’s books because it would allow him to add so much more to the story.
“After we had gotten three of them, I was just sitting there and thought, ‘Why don’t we make a book out of them,'” he said. “There was a lot I couldn’t do on stage, so I could add all these other things that would round out the story.”
Rist has also released the soundtracks of the ballets to accompany the books.
While at the museum, the fire alarm goes off, thus forcing the ballerinas to leave. However one dancer, Chloe, is left behind.
“She gets left in the museum and the museum comes alive,” Rist said.
A Degas painting, a Degas statue and a Picasso painting all begin to interact with Chloe.
“It’s fantastic as well as having reality in the setting,” Rist said.
The second book in the “Ballerina Girls” series, “Nightmare,” focuses on the legend of the “Fitzgerald Ghost,” which haunts the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
One of the ballerinas in the book sees the ghost and proceeds to have nightmares about the ghost. She is even transported to another world through her dreams.
Rist said he chose to have his first two books deal with fantastical elements because it was something he was accustomed to.
“I’ve written a lot of (unpublished) children’s books and they’ve always been on the fantastic side,” he said. “I guess it’s just my nature.
“The first two are fantastical, the third one is not.”
Rist’s third “Ballerina Girls” book, “The Ballet School” is essentially about the Classical Ballet Academy.
“It’s about getting up in the morning, going to class, what happens in class, auditions, rehearsals and performances,” he said. “It’s a lot more realistic of a story.”
“The Ballet School,” which also started out as a ballet before it became a book, was performed during the Minnesota Ballet Festival May 4-6 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
More books to come
Rist said he intends to write and produce additional “Ballerina Girls” stories in the future.
“If you find something you enjoy doing, it’s pleasurable,” he said. “It’s a compulsion, I guess.”
Rist said he has already started thinking up additional possibilities for the “Ballerina Girls,” including having them travel to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.
The biggest challenge for Rist though is taking the time to actually write the books.
“These stories are there, they’re already there, they’re at my school, you just have to make yourself sit down and write them,” he said. “There’s so many possibilities because there’s so much richness in that Lowertown district of St. Paul."