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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Ballet Reference Books

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Victoria Leigh

Susan, I do indeed know that Gretchen is a very nice woman, and also a wonderful teacher! We met many years ago, and I consider her a friend, although we very rarely see each other since I left Florida over 6 years ago. Actually I was one of the 50 or so people who were privileged enough to see the book before it was published, when she asked me to look at it in the proofing stages. I was most honored, and really did not have much time with it, but I was certainly impressed! (See the Acknowledgements)

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Gretchen Ward's book is indeed expensive. I decided to go for Lincoln Kirstein's book. Its very well done and the new paper back edition is affordable. The diagrams are detailed, and informative, but it's definately not a pretty picture book. Vagonova's little 5-10 dollar book is nice too, but if you're not studying Russian technique it can be a little mis-leading.



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Victoria: An honor indeed! I'm not surprised that your opinion was valued by her, having observed the way you manage this board. It must be very satisfying to have played a part in that book's creation.~susan

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Victoria Leigh

Susan, the part I played was so very small, and I was completely shocked to be listed in the acknowledgements. However, it was indeed an honor!


Thank you so much for your kind words about the board! I really enjoy doing this, and love meeting the students, teachers, writers, and ballet lovers who post here!

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  • 1 year later...

A press release from Dance Books:


Dance Books is pleased to announce publication of "Classical Ballet Terms, an illustrated dictionary" by Richard Glasstone.



SUBTITLE: An illustrated dictionary

ISBN: 1 85273 080 3


Author: Richard Glasstone

PUBLISHER: Dance Books Ltd



SPECIFICATIONS: Paperback 100 pages 238 x 165mm

2 colour cover




Wherever ballet is taught in the world, and in whatever language, it retains one common denominator: the technical terms used are in French, deriving in part from the rules laid down at the time of Louis XIV. Yet there are many discrepancies in the perceived meaning, spelling, and usage between various countries and teaching methods, and this dictionary aims to prevent confusion by explaining the precise meanings of over 560 of the French technical terms used in classical ballet.


The dictionary is unique in that it addresses the problems of correct spelling and grammar, such as the fact that French nouns have a gender with which he adjectives qualifying them must agree. These details may be relatively unimportant to the average dancer, but it is essential that they should be correctly applied when dealing with the printed word.


While most of the entries are concerned with the correct translation and basic explanation of technical terms, there are also extended entries which trace both the historical background and the linguistic origins of particular aspects of ballet terminology, such as the one on The Orientation of the Body in Space.


The dictionary is an essential reference work not only for ballet dancers and teachers, but for all audience members who wish to have a better technical understanding of this most elegant of art forms.It is enhanced by many photographs, by Simon Rae-Scott, of Michael Clarke, Francesca Franchi, and Philip Broomhead.


RICHARD GLASSTONE is a graduate of the Dance Department at Cape Town University. He has worked internationally as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. Glasstone was Resident Choreographer and Principal Teacher of the Turkish State Ballet from 1965 - 1969, before being invited by Dame Ninette de Valois to join the staff of The Royal Ballet School. During his 15 years there he held the posts of Senior Teacher for Boys and Director of the Dance Composition Course; he also choreographed numerous ballets for the students, in which many noted dancers of The Royal Ballet company made their stage debuts.


Richard Glasstone now teaches at The Rambert School in London. He has written several books on ballet and has contributed articles to the International Encyclopaedia of Dance and the International Dictionary of Ballet, and writes regularly for Dance Now and the Dancing Times.


Details and ordering facilities can be found at:


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  • 7 months later...
Guest Pamela Moberg

The Oxford Dictionary of Dance - this is the one previously edited by Horst Koegler (I have a very well thumbed edition and that is my bible), now by Debra Craine and Judith Mackrell has been issued in paperback, 8.99 pounds. Oxford University Press.

Anyone seen this volume? Opinions? Should one order a copy?

There is a review on Timesonline, May 25, 2002.

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Don't throw away the Koegler! There's a lot of new stuff in the new Oxford -- mostly modern dance -- which is fine. (I think it's very hard these days to have a separate ballet mini-encyclopedia; there's too much crossover.) But there's also a lot of stuff in the Koegler that isn't in the new Oxford. Especially the sense that Koegler had actually seen much of what he wrote about.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest heavenlydancer

Can anyone suggest any fiction or nonfiction books about ballet? I would perfer suggestions that target an advanced ballet student. Thank you!

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