REVIEW: ‘Last Dance’ – A Story of Spirits and Dance Slippers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last Dance - But Why Tho?Last Dance is a spooky kids graphic novel published by Iron Circus Comics, writing and art by Hanna Schroy. Miriam wants one thing in life, to be a prima ballerina. To be the star of the show! And she is so close. But, when her fixation brings about an untimely injury, she fears her dreams may be dashed forever. Until she discovers a mysterious door, hidden in the dance studio she attends. There she finds a spirit who may be able to help her achieve all her dreams, but at what price?

Writing tales of spooks, spirits, and ill-considered deals being made with them can be a difficult path to tread when one’s target audience is the young. After all, you want to give a bit of a fright, but not so much that it goes beyond the audience’s level. While at the same time, too tame and is even really spooky? Or is it just a tale that has a spirit in it? Even though it can be difficult to walk this fine line, it’s good that creators take the effort to make these themes work for this age group. Because there is another aspect to all great scary stories that kids need to have. This is how these stories highlight faults, both in individuals, as well as society. And this is an area that Last Dance certainly doesn’t overlook.

In the vast majority of fiction, there is an iron-clad law to magic: it always takes more than it gives back. Breaking the natural laws of the world is never done without a price. While the well-intentioned are often duped into believing the price isn’t going to be high, they end up paying for it in the end. This is certainly what Miriam discovers through her journey.

As Last Dance’s story opens we see our main character, Miriam, at practice with her local ballet troupe. She is working on her big duo dance when an errant jump causes her to injure her ankle. A trip to the doctor informs her that she will never be able to dance again. It seems her obsessive training has worn her body down to the point where to go back to dancing could permanently injure her. As dance is all Miriam has ever wanted, she doesn’t take the news well.

After a frustrating meeting with the troupe’s coach, who refuses to let her dance again, Miriam throws her crutch through a mirror in her school. To her surprise, she discovers an old wooden door behind the glass. What waits behind the door is a spirit dancer who wants to once more strut upon the stage, and so, offers Miriam a deal. Let the spirit live through her on the stage, and she will restore Miriam’s ability to dance. Seeing no downside to this, Miriam agrees. And she soon returns to her obsession.

The core narrative in Last Dance is about how we view ourselves and what can happen when we allow our views to become hyper-focused through a single lens. For Miriam, her dancing is all she is. And the thought of losing it pushes her in some hard directions. While Miriam is largely at fault for her shortcoming, writer Schroy takes some time during the story to also point out how our culture often facilitates this sort of outlook. It calls out that tendency to over-encourage, if not outright push people to always try to be the best there is, rather than the best they are.

The art in Last Dance does a great job of highlighting the emotions of the story, as well as the elegance of ballet. Schroy’s simple art style allows the numerous images of dancing to flow with an uncomplicated grace. The portrayal of the spirit is also handled well, as its presence always delivers a bit of a chill. These elements all come together beautifully in the story’s climactic moments.

As Last Dance’s plot builds, the price that Miriam’s deal requires escalates until she eventually must confront the spirit about what is happening around her. This sequence is the only moment in the story that truly delivers a sort of “horror” vibe to it, and it is done remarkably well. The eerie panels certainly land a haunting vibe but aren’t anything that would outrightly scare a child. The mixing of ballet poses and Miriam’s struggle against the spirit are the perfect balance of creepy for this tale’s target audience.

When all is said and done, Last Dance delivers an excellent blend of creepy story vibes, an excellently executed final confrontation, and some deep life lessons that young readers can always stand to hear one more time.

Last Dance is available January 12th wherever comics are sold.


Last Dance
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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Last Dance delivers an excellent blend of creepy story vibes, an excellently executed final confrontation, and some deep life lessons that young readers can always stand to hear one more time.