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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Ballet Book gifts for a dancer?

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'tis the season, so how about a book for your favorite dancer? Here are some from my bookcase that I'd recommend.



An encyclopedia of dance terms, positions, techniques, and movements. Copiously illustrated with photographs


THE CLASSIC BALLET - Lincoln Kirstein

Ballet movements are broken down into a step-by-step recipe. Illustrated with line drawings.


STEP-BY-STEP BALLET CLASS - Royal Academy of Dancing

The Royal Academy's sylabus broken down into a guide. More basic movement than the previous 2 books, better for a younger dancer.



Who better than a former Balanchine dancer and educator to keep his torch pure and alive?


BALLET 101 - Robert Greskovic

He calls it a "complete guide" and at 600+ pages, that's no joke. History, plot synopsis, and people. It's a must-own when someone asks you the plot of La Bayadere.



Traces the re-emergence of men from portiers to stars. Lavishly illustrated with photographs.


THE BALLET BOOK - Nancy Ellison

Go backstage with ABT dancers to get a glimpse of their life. A beautiful broad overview of the world of dance for dancers and fans alike.


LET'S GO ON - Wayne Johnson

The story of Pacific Northwest Ballet's rise from a sputtering local company to one with an international reputation for excellence.


ROMEO & JULIET - Nancy Ellison

ABT dancers recreate their roles in the streets of the real Verona, Italy in this beautiful picture book.



The result of a 6 year collaboration between the photographers and San Fancisco Ballet is an extraordinary book showing the sweat as well as the beauty of dance.



A pictorial celebration



LEAP YEAR – A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A DANCER – Christopher d’Amboise

The diary of an 18 year old boy invited to join NYCB where his father performed as a principal dancer

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Given that this is a gift suggestion, I think this message makes more sense as originally posted in "Anything Goes"

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I recently re-read Suzanne Farrell's autobiography, "Holding On to the Air," and it really is splendid on her career and working with Balanchine. There's a new edition out.


The other autobiography I've enjoyed is Edward Villella's "Prodigal Son,"

which manages to show the ballet world warts and all but without bitterness.


Further displaying my NYCB bias, I also like Toni Bentley's "Winter Season," a very charming behind-the-scenes look by a corps dancer.

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I'd recommend any of Arlene Croce's books,


Sight Lines

Going to the Dance


Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the New Yorker


Her reviews and commentary have taught me more than anybody how to view and enjoy dance. Sometimes when reading one of her chapters I admit it goes right over my head. So I go back and reread it again and again until I understand what she is saying. That's what I love about her writing. She never panders and lowers her intellect for her audience, she forces you to come up to her level, and let's you learn in the process. If I were a dancer I would find her writing to be very helpful and inspiring.

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Her reviews and commentary have taught me more than anybody how to view and enjoy dance.

Ah, yes. That was exactly my experience with Edwin Denby -- which I say without taking anything away from Croce.


I just did a quick search on Amazon and found that the only relevant book by Denby is "Dance Writings." I forget the titles of his anthologies that I read when I was a newbie. Wonderful examples of observation, clear expression of values and beautiful, beautiful writing.

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The Ballet Companion is a must have for every dancer by Eliza Gaynor Minden.

It is ideal for teenagers and pre teens as they have pictures to execute the movements

With such colourful and detailed book, it is a must have for every dancer


The Pointe Book 2nd Edition By Janice Barringer and Sarah Schlesinger is also a must have!

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