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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance


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I am looking for a book that will help me think up more metaphors and imagery to help my students achieve what I am trying to tell them in my own wooden way using boring scientific language. Has anyone read this book? Comments would be appreciated.

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Mel Johnson

You're probably proposing the best use of it. It is best for teachers; students will find it rather bewildering.

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I have had this book for many years now and I can honestly say I’ve used it more than any of the many dance books I have. I cannot recommend it high enough, for either teacher or student. The book is loaded with images one can use in ballet and modern class. I also find the introductory sections very interesting, if not always helpful.

 

Having praised the book, I will say that I’ve found 90% of the images unhelpful in my own work, but the remaining 10% have been real gems. So not all of the images given in the book work for all students, which is why I recommend it for students. You have to try different things out to see what works for you.

 

Each week I do a 2 hour ballet class at home. Most of the time, I’ll go through the book ahead of time and pick 5-6 images I’ll try to keep in mind as I do my class. I’ve circled the ones I like and Xed out the ones I don’t care for. Doing that improves the quality of my home class quite a bit.

 

I take the same approach when I do at at-home modern class.

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Mel Johnson

I might recommend it for adult students, but I certainly would not do so for teens. They're deluged enough with information and I don't believe are able yet to process the information so that it would be useful for them.

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My teacher tries to give us little stories. During an adagio, you don't merely put your arms in first arabesque, you are reaching for your boyfriend. Sometimes it's funny because not everything can have a clear "motivation". Yes, my love, I long for you. Therefore I will do this developpee. :grinning: If you're always reaching , your dancing isn't static. You're not "posed", you're moving.

 

I think there's always a quality of longing in fine ballet dancing. I've decided that's what's missing in technically perfect execution sometimes. There's no longing...no drama.

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Myfairlady

I think I will get the book. I think it will help me with teaching both young students and old. I was watching my mentor teach her 5 year old class, and when they were doing a common stretch that I use, instead of saying "Touch right, stretch over" which is something I might've said, she said "Make a rainbow." Duh! Why couldn't I have thought of that? I really need help coming up with kind of stuff. Some people come up with it rather easily, but I'm a very literal kind of teacher.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Myfairlady

I just received the book today, and I read the chapter on pirouettes. It is very interesting. My mentor just recently told me that I learned and am teaching spotting wrong, and this book seems to confirm that fact. So much to learn...so little time! :D

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