Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg

Eighty-five year old Teo was once a world class ballet dancer, and even now in his old age, he continues to help instruct dancers on how to perform his ballet “Obsession.” His daily routine is to stop by a coffee shop on his way to the studio. One day Teo discovers a new waitress, Vivi. Teo and Vivi find that they both enjoy each other and their mutual passion for art. Teo challenges Vivi to stop “dabbling” in so many different art forms and instead to develop a passion for one form as he did with ballet. Through the use of art, Vivi and Teo are both able to open up about painful episodes in both of their pasts. Although Teo is at least forty years old than Vivi, they both find a second chance at love and redemption.

First of all, I love the title of this book. When We Danced on Water is a beautiful name for the book and fits with the story so well. I really enjoyed this slim novel. Once I got into the story, I had a hard time putting the book down, particularly through Teo’s tale of his struggle through WWII as a Polish Jew. It is through this struggle that we learn of the true meaning of passion and obsession to Teo. The story was at times disturbing, but it was also a beautiful story of survival and the transformative power of art and dance.

I enjoyed reading about ballet and Teo’s involvement in it as a dancer and then as an instructor. I also really liked the setting of Tel Aviv and also Berlin. It made for a fascinating and unique place to read about.

Overall, When We Danced on Water is a beautifully written novel about second chances, the transformative power of art, horrors of WWII, and so much more. I highly recommend this novel.

I am the last stop for When We Danced on Water for the TLC Book Tours. To read more about this novel, check out the other tour stops at this link.

Book Source: Harper Perennial Advance Review Copy. Thank-you!


  1. I've recently become a fan of "late-in-life" love stories so this sounds like a good read for me.

    Thanks for being on the tour Laura!

  2. This sounds like something I would enjoy and I have read very few books concerning ballet. Fab review!

  3. This does sounds like a wonderful book. It's interesting that you say that the title fits the book so well, as I recently read an interview with this author in which he said that he had titled it something else, and it was his editors that came up with this title.

  4. "The story was at times disturbing..." This phrase has me quite intrigued! Sounds like the author packs quite a punch in as few pages as possible. My kind of book!

  5. I was really curious about this book, but I passed on the tour and now I'm regretting that. It sounds so good.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  6. I loved this book, too. Teo's story was sad and disturbing, but beautiful as well. My review is here if you're interested:

    I will link to your review on War Through the Generations. :)

  7. This is my 11th item for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. This was a small book, but it packed a big punch. I'm still thinking about it!