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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Dance books, dance magazines

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  • Dale


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Guest Nanatchka

No Jane, it isn't important in the sense that British is better/worse, only interesting that we are discussning British bios of a British choreographer. Perhaps the different approaches reflect a generational shift, come to think of it. The old Britian, and the new. The same shift as in the public deportment of the royal family. And Alexandra, while of course I admire and appreciate David Vaughn's recognition of the public/private distinction, I am also frustrated because he knows soooo much that I would like to know myself. Nosy of me.

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Guest Stuart Sweeney

Nantchka, I don't think it's just being nosy. The background that Kavanagh gives provides insights into Ashton and helps tp put in context the pieces we see on the stage.


The party-going Ashton gives rise to a piece like 'Facade', his spoofs with Helpmann inspiring the sistere in 'Cinderella' and the forlorn lover inspiring many of the works. His lack of a full ballet or musical training and his technical shortcomings as a dancer resulting in an insecurity that gives rise to Kavanagh's account of his jealous anger at Helpmann's choreographic work for Sadler's Wells during the War.


Interestingly, the few UK dance folk who I have spoken to about the book really enjoyed it and like me found it an absorbing and easy read. For all his faults, I ended up finding Ashton more interesting by the end of the book and it certainly made me want to see more of his work.


I just loved the anecdote of him using his free public transport pass to attend a engagement where he would then travel in a Royal carriage.

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I got a kick out of those photographs of him as Queen Victoria -- he's a dead ringer -- and as Gertrude and Alice with Helpmann. A minor point -- I don't think it was his worry about his relative lack of training that made him resent Helpmann so much as professional jealousy and, more important, Helpmann's bent toward narrative ballet and emphasis on acting was changing the company's dance focus, hence Symphonic Variations. Kavanagh does indicate that Ashton felt some insecurity vis-a-vis Balanchine, however.

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  • 7 months later...
Guest BlossomingBallerina

Hi my name is Alix I am 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I am reading a book in a series called The Friendship Ring and there is a book called Please Please Please about a girl named CJ who is making a decision between quiting ballet and becoming a normal kid, or staying with it to the point where it gets so far that it will start to take over her life!!!I hope you decide to read it.

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Guest DancingBug

Another great book is called BALLERINA, I forgot who the author is, but what I do remember is that you can find it in the adult section of your library, that's where I got it. It IS rather long, about 500 pages, but it's a fab book to read when you have lots of time... like in the summer!

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I also read this really cool book (it was not that long, so you could read it anytime) by Rumer Godden. It's about a girl who's being raised by her great aunt, who's the wardrobe mistress of a famous ballet company, and then........ well, i won't spoil it for you.




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And the title of this book by Rumor Godden is????

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Guest Pease-blossom

I think I know the book you're talking about, sarabeth...is it Listen to the Nightingale? I looove that book! Even if we're not thinking of the same book, I still recommend that book!

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I looked on amazon.com to see if I could find the author of "Ballerina" but they didn't have it listed, and they have everything! Could you possibly post the author? I would be very interested in reading it! Thanks



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Guest DancingBug

Sorry, I don't remember the author! I'll try to find it though A.S.A.P. because I think that anyone who loves ballet will enjoy reading it!

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Guest DancingBug

I just went to my Library Online Catalog, and I searched for the book. I'm pretty sure I found the book. It's by Edward Norton... and if my memory serves me right then that sounds familiar, and that's probably the author. I hope this helps!

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Guest sarez

Ms. Leigh.........

The book I'm talking about is Listen to the Nightingale. It's a really good book, and I recommend it to anybody who likes reading books about ballet!


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Guest BethJ

There is a wonderful series of fiction books called "Satin Slippers" I'm not sure who it is by, but it is all about a girl named Leah who goes to the San Francisco Ballet Academy. There are about 20 books in the series and they are really good.

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Guest ScottieGDE13

There is a really good book I've read called Ribbons. It's about this girl of Japanese descent and she's an awesome dancer but she has to quit because her parents can't afford it anymore because her grandmother is moving from Japan to their house. It just talks about how she deals with it and also how she gets along with her grandmother. It is REALLY good- mostly. There was this other really good one I read a long time ago so I can't really remember it but I think it was called Ballet Magic. It's about this girl who feels discouraged in dance because of her height. She's really tall and all the other girls are about a foot shorter so they get the corps parts but she's not good enough to be a soloist yet so she can only understudy. It's really good!


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