Title: A Dance Like Starlight
Author: Kristy Dempsey
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Word Count: 937
Story Element #2 CONFLICT There are two main types of conflict in literature, internal and external. I found a short youtube video explaining these two main types of conflict.
Conflict is crucial! Without conflict there is no story. Conflict creates tension in the story and conflict done well makes the reader question how it will be resolved. Therefore, the best stories have resolutions that are directly related to the conflicts.
In the story, A Dance Like Starlight, The main character is a young black girl who dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. Every night she watches the sky for the first star to make her wish. But through the lights and dirt of the city, it’s hard to see the stars. In addition to the fact that she can’t find the wishing star, her mama tells her there’s no use to wish on stars. She tells her that wishes are a waste of time anyway. Mama says that hope is stronger than wishes. ‘”Hope can pick your dreams up, she says, off the floor of your heart when you think it can’t happen…”
So far, it seems as this may be an internal conflict. Then, the author uses historical events to increase the conflict in the story. The reader soon learns that there is an external conflict in this story. Mama sews and cleans costumes for the ballet school for white children. Sometimes the girl tries on the costumes and practices the steps at home. But she knows she cannot dance on stage with them.
Then one day the Ballet Master sees her dancing backstage. He holds her face in his hands and gives her hope. ‘Brava’ he says to her. He allows her to join lessons from the back of the room even though she is not allowed to take the stage with the white girls. This gives her hope to dream even though the odds are stacked against her, and so she continues to practice. And her hope turns into hard work.
The resolution comes in the form of a newspaper article. The world’s first colored prima ballerina, Janet Collins, is scheduled to dance at the Metropolitan Opera House. She and Mama ride in the back of the bus transferring three times to get there. And when they do, she sits at the edge of her seat throughout the performance. When Miss Collins dances the audience stands and claps and shouts ‘brava’. The young girl tells the reader, “Hope puffs up my chest just a bit. One day, those voices will be for me.”