Dancing Shoes follows the ups and downs of two orphan girls in a dance school. Rachel Lennox, a sensitive, thoughtful 10 year old, whose world changes abruptly after her mother's unexpected death. Rachel and her adopted sister Hilary go live with their aunt, Cora Wintle, who runs a dancing school in London. Hilary was to audition for the Royal Ballet School but Aunt Cora wants her to be in one of her Little Wonders dance troupes instead.
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The sisters have both good and bad times in the Dancing School. Hilary finds tap, jazz, and acrobatics more enjoyable than ballet and hopes to join a troupe when she is old enough. However, Rachel is terrible at dancing, only enjoys lessons with Mrs. Storm, the schoolteacher. Furthermore, Rachel cannot stand Aunt Cora's daughter Dulcie, a brilliant dancer but arrogant, spoiled, and conceited show-off who thinks the world revolves around her.
As the year wears on, Rachel constantly reminds Hilary of her goal of becoming a professional ballerina, but Hilary spends more time on the ‘other' sorts of dancing and even wins a dancing competition against prodigy Dulcie! Mrs. Wintle, tired of Rachel's stubbornness, almost sends her away to a public school.
As the girls come of age in the dancing world, they start auditioning for all sorts of engagements. Dulcie becomes even more patronizing and conceited as she lands the star role of Little Red Riding Hood and is a huge success. When it is Hilary's turn to audition, all she wants is a part in a troupe, but instead has to understudy Dulcie. Rachel is never even considered, as her distinct complexion and little amount of talent makes her an almost automatic castout every time.
Finally, Hilary stars in Rose Colored Glasses and Rachel lets go of her dream of Hilary becoming a ballerina. Then, Dulcie receives a huge part in a movie but as she is stumbling through the scenes, the director sees Rachel and, finding she is a wonderful actress, gives her the part instead. Rachel now has a fantastic future ahead as a film star, and is no longer just a plain, clumsy dancer.
Best part of story, including ending:
Despised, plain, clumsy Rachel turns out to be a better actress than arrogant Dulcie. She finally has something she enjoys doing.
Best scene in story:
Bubbly Hilary and confident Dulcie are the finalists in a children's dance competition. They both perform well but Hilary wins and Dulcie is, for the first time in her life, not the best. Hilary's winning dance mimicked Dulcie mincing around, adding to the joy of her win.
Opinion about the main character:
Rachel can be moody and sullen. She also tries to control Hilary and nags her about ballet.