Everyone is beautiful at the ballet – guest post by Laura Sheehan

This post by guest author, Laura Sheehan, really moved me when I read it. I am pleased to be able to hand over my blog today to Laura, who was kind enough to share her story and showcase her new Red Sage  release, Dancing With Danger:

As Bebe says in A Chorus Line, “Everyone is beautiful at the ballet.”

I couldn’t agree more. Dance was my saving grace. On stage, I was beautiful.  And eventually, dancing helped me realize that I was just as beautiful off-stage.

You see, I was born with a cleft lip and palate. I was in and out of hospitals throughout my childhood. I had my first operation when I was a few months old, and my last at age 14.  That last surgery was the one I’d been looking forward to since I was old enough to realize that I was “different.”  In addition to the scar on my lip, the gaping hole in the roof of my mouth, and my awkwardly placed teeth, my nose was also deformed. It was assymetrical, slightly off-center, wide and flattish.

The most common question I’d been asked (even more common than “How are you?”) was “What’s wrong with your nose?” I was so very tired of answering that question, and dealing with the bouts of self-consciousness that inevitably followed.

That last surgery, just a few weeks before high-school started, was supposed to fix everything.  It would be the final attempt to close my stubborn cleft palate, and at the same time, the surgeons would “fix” my messed-up nose and make me look normal. I didn’t expect to be made beautiful (as my tactless surgeons made very clear), but I didn’t care about that.

Unlike most young teenage girls, I wasn’t dying to attract the attention of boys.  I didn’t wear skimpy skirts in the hopes of getting whistles from the football jocks as I walked past the field. I wasn’t into make-up or fashion or crazy hairstyles.

No, what I wanted was to walk down the hallways at school and NOT be stared at. I wanted, for once in my life, to blend in, to not have to constantly explain my face, to be normal.

When I finally took the nose cast off (just 24 hours before my first day as a freshman), I was overwhelmed.  My nose was so much better! It was skinnier, straighter, less-flat, and although it was still a bit asymmetrical, it was so much closer to “normal.” I walked into high-school with my chin held high and my confidence soaring.

When I caught a cute boy staring at me in my AP Biology course in 2nd period, I did something I’d never done before: I returned his look and smiled.

And then he leaned over and asked me, “What’s wrong with your nose?”

I won’t go into my devastation at hearing those five words.

Instead, I’ll tell you what happened in my ballet class just a few hours later. My ballet mistress, Miss Pamela Langevin, was a gorgeous, tall, red-headed beauty. She was graceful, talented, and elegant. So when she came over to me during class and told me that my arms and hands reminded her of her own, I almost cried. When she pulled me aside after class and asked me if I’d ever considered a career as a professional dancer, all thoughts of that stupid boy in AP biology flew out the window.  She told me I had a special “something” when I danced, that I shined.  She said that it was hard to take her eyes off me when I lost myself in the movement.

And for the first time, I realized that I liked the idea of people looking at me, of people’s eyes being stuck on me. I liked the idea of being in the spotlight, of being the center of attention.

Because everyone is beautiful at the ballet.

Lily, the heroine of Dancing With Danger, is a professional dancer who only lets her guard down when she’s performing. She can bring an audience to its knees when she dances on stage, but until she meets Marc, she has no idea she can be equally as passionate off stage.

What experiences in your life have helped you realize how special and capable you are?  Share your story in the comments below!

Dancing With Danger Book Blurb:

Lily Brookstone has always been fiercely independent.  She learned to take care of herself when she was just a child, when her mother died and her workaholic father refused to make her a priority. Now she’s a dancer struggling to make it in Los Angeles, and the town hasn’t been easy on her. First her father disowned her, then she was injured on the job and dropped by her agent. Now, she’s working three jobs to make ends meet, and, oh yeah, she has somehow managed  to pick up a stalker.  In short, Los Angeles has not been kind. But then she meets Marc, a tough LAPD officer who is determined to break through her defensive walls. Lily might be able overcome her untrusting nature and allow him to protect her life, but what about her heart?

Buy Dancing With Danger at:

Amazon or B&N.com or Red Sage

Read an Excerpt HERE

Laura Sheehan can be found online at ReadLaura.com, Facebook, Twitter and Google +.



  • Wendy: Thank you, Wendy! People sometimes think that we tend to remember the bad more than the good, but I don’t think that’s always true, as was the case here.

    Leigh: What a beautiful quote, so appropriate! Thanks for stopping by, and for your well wishes!

  • Laura –
    What an inspiring life you’ve led already! And your ballet teacher reminds me of that saying, “To the world, you may be only one person. But to one person, you may be the world.” For you, she changed your life. I hope she knows it!

    Good luck with your book!


  • A touching story Laura. It is amazing how a few kind words from someone we like & trust can change your whole outlook. Good luck with the book.

  • Jezebel: thank you! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy reading!

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I just purchased your book and am looking forward to reading it.

  • Jennifer: thank yo so much for having me! And you’re right: difficult time teach us how strong we can be.

    Ana: thank you! I think you are right.

    Gayla: I have an amazing family that loves me unconditionally, which helps quite a bit! ;-)

  • Gayla Wennstrom

    Saying what needs to be said, you take my breath away.

  • Laura, that is a very moving story. You are stronger and more beautiful inside and out for it.

  • Hi Laura, it has been an absolute pleasure having you as my guest for the past couple of days. I think, for me, it wasn’t until I went through the pain of divorce that I realized how capable and strong I could be. Sometimes it is the more difficult aspects of life that teach us the most about ourselves. Good luck with your book and your writing!

  • Sandra: ah yes, books were one of my favorite escapes too! I read a lot of Nancy Drew as a kid, then moved ono fantasy. Didn’t discover romance until adulthood!

  • Laura – what a moving story. I am so glad you had dance. Whenever things were tough for me I turned to books. I am looking forward to reading about Lily.

  • Pingback: Everyone is Beautiful at the Ballet | Laura Sheehan – Author

  • Danielle: thank you so much! You were also a joy to watch; there was a sweetness to your dancing that was always a pleasure to see, and I enjoyed the few dance classes we did have together just before I left for college. And I feel the same way: wish I had known you better way back when, but so glad we’re getting know each other now! So many people criticize FB and other social media tools as destroying true relationships, but I think in the right hands, it can connect us better than ever before. Love ya back!

  • Laura, I always loved watching you dance. I admired your technique, which was beautiful, but more so your passion while you danced. I never had that, I wasn’t able to get past my insecurities. Miss Pamela was right, there is something special about you and you do shine, stand out…in a good way. I think you always have. Looking back I wish we were friends, but you were above me in level so we didn’t run in the same crowd. I am glad we are FB friends now though, I enjoy your humor and perspective. I’m so glad you had dance to turn to when your outside life was caving in. I admire you and your strength.

    Love ya :-)

  • Roben: You are such a sweetheart. Thank you! It is interesting how life treats us sometimes. I really try to savor the joyous moments, and stay strong through the tough ones. So glad you loved my book!! This is one of those joyous moments I’m gonna savor the hell out of! lol

  • Kate: Thanks! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    Roz: awwww, thank you! And thanks for taking the time to read my story… writing about tender spots in our history can be cathartic.

    Carol: Amen, sista! I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. There were tough times, but I learned so much from them. And thanks for the comments about my ballet mistress. She actually recently passed away, unexpectedly. She was young (in her 40’s I think), with a pre-teen daughter, and it was quite a shock. The whole dance world that knew her (in Vegas, LA, France, and the Cayman Islands) is still reeling from the loss.

    Christine: I didn’t know you were a ballerina! Small world. We should take a class together one of these days… (I really need to get my butt to the barre!)

    Chellesie: so sorry to hear about your difficult childhood. Kids can be so terrible to each other sometimes. Being bullied is no joke, and I am glad that news and social media has recently been shining a light on the issue. Your mom sounds wonderful, and I’m so glad she pursued a change of environment for you. It’s amazing how being “different” can teach us early on what real friendship is.

  • Laura, you are gorgeous. Never forget that. I know how much you must have suffered as a young girl but to overcome that and go from shrinking away from people looking at you to dancing right into the spotlight is absolutely wonderful. Life is so interesting, how it can give us something hurtful with hand and then something rare and magnificent with the other.

    I loved, loved, loved your book and you did such a great job of depicting the heroine’s passion for dance.

  • What a moving story Laura! One that so very many of us can relate to, perhaps more than you realize. Especially those of us who are performers and writers, and I am both…
    I was likely the most well known kid in elementary school, but best known as the one most bullied. I had awful glasses, and braces, was exceptionally smart and over-sensitive–the perfect combination. I was pushed around and beat up on by the boys and the girls. My poor brother, two years younger and nothing like me, got picked on for being related to me.
    My mother pulled me out of school and put me in an ‘open school’ she’d help start. It fell apart in a couple months, but meantime it gave me a different perspective with the kindred spirits I’d encountered there.
    I look forward to your book!

  • To my fellow ballet dancer – you are beautiful, onstage and off, within and without. You have so many wonderful stories to share. Shine, my girl. Shine!

  • Ah, the things that make us stronger, tougher, and more successful in life. What a wonderful dance teacher you had. Congrats on your release.

  • Laura, you are an amazing person! Beautiful, inside and out! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story. I’m so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. Congrats on the release. I wish you many, many sales!

  • What an inspiring story Laura. Look forward to reading your new book.

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