Nancy Paris “Pardon My French – It’s the Language of Ballet.”
The Adventures of Lilly Nilly.
Story of Precocious Ballerina Sparks Joie de Vivre in the Hearts of Young Readers
Interview with author Nancy Paris.
With a turn of her tutu and a playful plié, precocious 6-year-old ballerina Lilly Nilly dances her way into readers’ hearts with a joie de vivre that will entertain and inspire kids and adults alike. The new children’s Book, Pardon My French. It’s the Language of Ballet: The Adventures of Lilly Nilly, the author Nancy Paris, wants just that!
From the creative mind of real-life former NYC-based dancer and choreographer Nancy Paris, Pardon My French takes young readers inside the mind of a spunky, determined young dance student whose self-appointed mission is to figure out what the heck ballet –– and coincidentally life –– are all about.
Lilly Nilly uniquely sees the world and delivers her humorous, offbeat observations with childlike honesty. She wears her curiosity on her sleeve and asks burning questions like, “Why can’t you hang upside down on a ballet barre if it looks just like an ordinary bar?” Or, “If you’re going to travel in a carpool, should you wear a bathing suit?”
“Young readers will find Lilly’s stories funny and very relatable, especially if they are ballet students themselves,” Paris said. “Adults will find her sharp wit and strong-willed spirit a charming reminder of just how empowering a joyful approach to life can be.”
Pardon My French – It’s the Language of Ballet is complete with illustrations that only Lilly Nilly could have drawn — with some help from Paris, who used her experiences as a professional dancer and teacher to inform her narrative. Her mission, Paris said, is to encourage all readers to trust their instincts, seek their own answers, and be kind to all.
Liane Buck: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Nancy Paris: I am a retired professional dancer and choreographer. I attended The Juilliard School after training at dance studios in my hometown of Massapequa, NY, and New York City. I’ve performed and choreographed worldwide and taught dance in NYC, Montreal, Toronto, Stockholm, and Osaka. I had my own dance troupe for about 15 years and produced dance shows that toured in the US. I am currently a producer and co-creator of the new musical Radio 930, which we hope to bring to Broadway in the Spring of 2024.
Liane Buck: What is the title of your latest Book?
Nancy Paris: the Book is: “Pardon My French – It’s the Language of Ballet.” It’s a story about a 6-year-old ballet student named Lilly Nilly. Her self-appointed mission is to figure out what the heck ballet –– and coincidentally life –– are all about and share this insight with other kids. In her musings, Lilly asks burning questions like “Why can’t you hang upside down on a ballet barre if it looks just like an ordinary bar?” or “If you’re going to travel in a carpool, should you wear a bathing suit?”
Liane Buck: What was the inspiration for your story?
Nancy Paris: It’s autobiographical – I have very clear memories from a childhood spent in ballet class. As an adult dancer, I devoted some years to teaching children. They would say the funniest things to me, and I would rush home to write it all down. I always thought that someday I might use the material in some way. I just wasn’t sure how.
Fast forward to the height of the covid pandemic. I was in lockdown in a small Manhattan apartment and needed to find some form of creativity to keep my spirits up. So I took an online writing course and found delight in telling short stories. It reminded me of creating a piece of choreography and seemed like a fun way to stretch my creativity.
Liane Buck: You wrote and illustrated the Book. What was the most surprising thing you learned from the experience?
Nancy Paris: That I could write and illustrate a book! Honestly, I had zero confidence in both. But I shared the written manuscript with as many people as I could. I sent an email blast to the tenant association in my apartment building, asking if anyone would be kind enough to read my story. I wanted a cross-section of people – children and adults, those I knew and didn’t know – to weigh in. Their responses gave me the green light to continue.
As for the illustrations, I never intended to use them, just to sketch out a blueprint for the illustrator I would bring in. At first, I drew a bunch of stick figures in clothes. Then, I showed them to a friend who challenged me to “do better.” She loved the reworked drawings when I eventually showed them to a graphic artist. She said they were very appropriate for the Book – primitive enough to look like a six-year-old had drawn them. So, I went with it. I continued to teach myself how to draw along the way. It could sometimes be frustrating, but it was always a lot of fun!
Liane Buck: What message do you hope your young (and older) readers walk away with after joining Lilly Nilly’s adventures?
Nancy Paris: The Book is written with a “cross-over appeal” in mind to amuse adults and children. I would ask children – especially little girls – to find their own voice, be inquisitive, trust their instincts, and not be afraid to express themselves. I would ask adults to take pleasure in remembering the thoughts and perceptions running through their minds as children. And for everyone: find your joy in living and be kind to all.
Liane Buck: Are you planning to write another book?
Nancy Paris: Yes! Seven Summer Situations That Were Not My Fault, the second Book in my series, The Adventures of Lilly Nilly, will be published in October 2022. Lilly is now 7 years old; she’s completed First Grade and her first year of ballet study and is ready to leap into new and exciting summer adventures. But before long, her adventures turn into mishaps, or as Lilly calls them, “situations.” The stories are based on my funny childhood experiences with family and friends. Happily, we all survived.
Liane Buck: Where can we find your Book?
Nancy Paris: The Book is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and Walmart.com. There are links on my website www.lillynilly.com.
I also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/adventures.of.lilly.nilly