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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Ballet Books by Noel Streatfield


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DesertLily

I recently re-read "Ballet shoes," and most of my daughters have read it (all but the youngest). We've also read aloud a couple of the books--most recently "Skating Shoes," about a less-affluent girl who begins to skate for health recommendations and befriends a girl who's being pushed into being a famous skater...

 

The books aren't a series, but sometimes characters from one will pop into another. The author is Noel Streatfield, and as far as I can tell most of her books have "shoes" in the title.

 

They are mostly set in the first half of the 20th century - there's mention of young Princess Elizabeth! - and the period details are fun, as well as the benevolent watchful Nannies who are often there to look after the young performers.

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The books aren't a series, but sometimes characters from one will pop into another. The author is Noel Streatfield, and as far as I can tell most of her books have "shoes" in the title.

The American versions do, the titles were all changed for the American market. But the original titles, other than Ballet Shoes, don't.

Dancing Shoes = Wintle's Wonders

Theatre Shoes = Curtains Up!

Skating Shoes = White Boots

... and on and on and on.

 

Just in case someone was interested in getting these and can't find them in bookstores-- they're quite easy to find used online, but sometimes will only be listed under the British titles. :thumbsup:

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By the way it's spelt Streatfeild - if you do a search it's best to spell it correctly. I always remember Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail putting the uninformed giant super book store sales girl in her place by not only knowing what the "Shoe" books were, but by being able to spell the author's name correctly!!! I have to admit that until then, and in spite of being a Noel Streatfeild mini groupie, I hadn't actually noticed that that's how she spelt her name!

 

Incidentally, the war time Britain atmosphere is so authentic because the earlier books were written in the 1930's and 1940's.

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Incidentally, the war time Britain atmosphere is so authentic because the earlier books were written in the 1930's and 1940's.

 

I know! They're so full of funny little details about how people dressed and talked and even what they ate. I also loved how Madame Fidolia was just the perfect model of an old-world ballet mistress—chignon, cane, Russian accent, and all. :P

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DesertLily
By the way it's spelt Streatfeild - if you do a search it's best to spell it correctly.

 

You're right - I was pretty sure I had it wrong, but didn't go check.

 

I always find the details about clothes interesting, but sometimes I wish for illustrations to tell me what a "tunic" looked like...I can't always visualize what the children are wearing to class!

 

It was also interesting to learn that the titles were changed for the American market. To give us a hint, maybe?

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I was always rather befuddled by their class attire as well—muslin tunics? Sandals? It sounds like something you'd wear to an Isadora Duncan-style class.

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I went to ballet school in London in the 50's and 60's and we still wore tunics rather than leotards. Our mothers made them for us! A tunic is basically a bit like a knight's tabard. Think of two rectangles of material, front and back of the body, with a scooped neck line and poppers to be able to undo it at the shoulder (so as to be able to slip it over your head). It also had two ribbon-like pieces of the same material attached at the sides, which you tied at the back. They were pretty unflattering because the length was just across the top of the thighs, so it shortened the look of the legs. I think Isadora's tunics were longer and more flowing, but I suppose ballet tunics did look like Greek tunics. I would think that the sandals they mentioned might look like the Greek sandals some people wear still for teaching. I am not sure because I always had proper ballet shoes - except for Greek/natural movement classes.

 

Don't forget too that things were on very short supply in England during the war years. Even material was hard to come by! I was born after the war and I still had a ration book for sweets, when I was very little!

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I have loved these books since I was a little girl. Another one is called The Pained Garden...it involves an English family that goes to America for a summer and one of the children plays the part of Mary in a film of The Secret Garden. Pauline and Posy Fossil, from the original Ballet shoes, make an appearance ! There is also Circus Shoes (or The Circus is Coming) and Theatre Shoes (or Curtain up).

 

I quite enjoyed the BBC film version of Ballet shoes as well.

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I love The Painted Garden too, but I think my favourite is Wintles Wonders (Dancing Shoes?). I think the great thing about Noel Streatfeild is that her characterizations are so real!

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Allegrodancer

Reading this post has caused me to pull these books out of the boxes that I store my children's books in the attic and begin re-reading them. Ballet Shoes is my favorite, but Dancing Shoes is wonderful as well.

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