The Dance Sequence
A word about the novels. There are six books in this section. I
think of them as 'The Dance Sequence'. A dance because it was while
I was writing DANCE ON MY GRAVE that I realised there would be six
novels. And because I think of them as an intricate kind of dance - a
dance of stories and of characters, a dance of incidents and ideas
and experiences, and fundamental to everything else, a dance of
words, of language. A sequence because they are like members of a
family. Each one is an individual and has its own separate personality,
standing on its own feet, so to speak; but each is genetically related
to the others. They share much in common while also seeing the
world through their own eyes.
Together they paint a portrait of a certain kind of youthful life, of
becoming adult in the last years of the twentieth century and the
first of the new millennium. Each is especially concerned with
particular kinds of experience. BREAKTIME, for example, seems to me
to be very preoccupied with physical experience - the life of the five
senses. DANCE ON MY GRAVE is to do especially with emotions and
personal obsessions. NOW I KNOW dwells on the dramatic clash of
belief and rational thought. THE TOLL BRIDGE is a 'recognition story'
that speaks of discovering the friendship of platonic love which young
people often call soul mates. The characters in POSTCARDS FROM NO
MAN'S LAND are constantly crossing boundaries. - Just one way of
thinking about the stories, there are others, but this will do for a
The family was completed in 2005 with publication of the sixth book,
Is All not only because it is the final book in the Sequence, but also
because it sums up, adds to, and revises all that has been described
in the previous five novels. No wonder it is 816 pages long! It is also
the only book in the Sequence which has a girl as the main character.
As epigraphs in the books put it: All writing is drawing. All writing is
memory. All writing is a gift.
For a critical study of all six novels in the Dance Sequence see: Betty
Greenway, Aidan Chambers: Master Literary Choreographer, The
Scarecrow Press, 2006, 133pp, ISBN 978-0-8108-5087-3.
See READERS WRITE for an essay by Kate Smith on 'Meeting and Rescue' in the novels in the Dance Sequence.
Click this link to go to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.
All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.

From Margaret Meek and Victor Watson, Coming of Age in Children's Literature (Continuum, 2003, p 37-40):

These [six] metafictive novels provide shifting perspectives upon young adult anxiety and obsession…shift freely in manner, authorial perspective, page-design and font. There are sometimes several narrators, but the dominant voice is always that of a first-person young narrator - angry and rueful, articulate and witty, full of quotations and word-play, self-conscious, self-obsessed, sex-obsessed, explicit and vivid, full of the facetiousness and stylistic fireworks of intelligent adolescence…

'The young-adult world which Chambers' young protagonists inhabit is a dramatic, highly-coloured place of uncertain friendships, violence and cynicism. They are thinkers, exhibitionists, passionate enquirers and symbol-seekers, pitiless scoffers and vulnerable egotists. And in these [six] novels there is - more than in any other young adult fiction - a powerful sense of adolescent physicality … Furthermore, the writing is preoccupied with meaning, with words, with the difficulty of accurately communicating truth …

Writing of this kind suggests an author articulating his struggle with the materials of his craft; but it challenges readers too, teasingly inviting them into an authorial conversation about fiction and truth… 'Is anything resolved in these novels? Perhaps a more appropriate question would be: can anything ever be resolved in a narrative devoted to adolescence? If it is the nature of maturation that it is always in process and never complete, maturation narratives must accordingly be fluid, uncertain and open-ended … Chambers' maturation narratives are inevitably always unfinished, not just a series of events still unfolding but a conversation between an impassioned writer and an engaged reader - what it is like to know everything and to have experienced nothing. But something is, if not resolved, at least formulated in these [six] fictions - some conviction or clarity about the nature of guilt, or heroism, or death, or love.'


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