Forbidden Dance 1, 3, and 4 by Hinako Ashihara (amazon)
I think that Sand Chronicles is one of the stronger series to come out recently, so I’ve been checking out Ashihara’s other work that’s been translated into English like SOS and Forbidden Dance. I wasn’t able to get my hands on volume two of this series, but I enjoyed the three volumes I was able to read.
Aya is a promising young ballerina who is hampered by an old injury and the psychological problems that accompany it. When the series opens she has been chosen for a solo role. But she slipped and fell on stage during a previous performance, injuring her ankle. Although she’s better now she suffers from horrible stage fright. She falls during a performance again, quits her school, and is about to give up ballet when she takes in a performance from the all male ballet troupe Cool. She’s mesmerized by their innovative dancing style and captivated by their charismatic leader Akira.
Aya decides that she’ll join Cool at all costs. She isn’t put off by the idea of joining a male ballet troupe, and she decides to work harder in order to overcome her physical limitations. She finds an ally in her classmate Tetsuya, a doctor’s son who is pursuing his passion for dance against the wishes of his parents.
There’s a huge difference in the quality of art between Sand Chronicles which started publication in 2003 and Forbidden Dance which came out in 1997. While the art in Forbidden Dance is a little rough around the edges, several scenes manage to capably portray dynamic dance performances. The romance between Aya and Akira is notable for non-mushiness. There always seems to be something going on that they have to deal with like financing for Cool, a British ballerina with major emotional issues, and the pressure of a make or break performance. While Forbidden Dance is out of print, it is worth picking up if you like ballet manga or if you’re an Ashihara fan.