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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Book List - Basic ballet history and appreciation


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This will be for basic books; a brief review of each, and a link to them on Amazon :thumbsup:


1. Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet by Robert Greskovic

This book is intended for adults new to ballet. It's huge -- over 600 pages -- with sections on history, and stories of the major personalities who shaped ballets. About half the book is a guide to watching ballet. Greskovic has selected videos of major ballets (all commercially available) and talks you through them. If you watch the ballets while reading the book, it's like having a private tutor sitting next to you and guiding your eye. Greskovic is dance critic for the Wall Street Journal and has been watching ballet for eons. His eye is very keen and he knows as much, or more, and sees as well, or better, than anyone writing today. (I've known him for years, but I'd say that even if I'd never met him :thumbsup: ) There's also a very complete videography and glossary. Paperback. The link in this post is to the first edition, still available through Amazon's network of used book stores. There's a new edition scheduled to be released October 15, 2005 by Limelight Books. Or buy this one now and hand it off to Cousin Sue or Uncle Fred when the new one is released!


2. 101 Stories of the Great Ballets : The scene-by-scene stories of the most popular ballets, old and new by George Balanchine and Francis Mason.

This is a bit dated now -- it hasn't been updated in 25 years! -- but it still is worth reading. The big story ballets are all here, as are the 20th century classics. And, unfortunately, there have been very few "great ballets" created in the last 25 years!! The ballets are presented in alphabetical order. Most of the text was written by Francis Mason, editor of Ballet Review, but whenever there's an "I first saw this ballet," the "I" is George Balanchine, mega-great 20th century choreographer, trained in the Imperial Russian school at the beginning of that century, and his recollections and opinions are always worth reading. There's an essay on "How to Look at Ballet" at the back of the book, too. Paperback. Amazon price: $11.53. Good for students and parents.


3. Ballet & Modern Dance: A Concise History by Jack Anderson.

A basic, clear, very readable history of ballet (mostly) and modern dance. You can read it in a weekend and score high on a jeopardy ballet category the next week. It's used as a college text, and includes excerpts from some very famous writings on ballet through the centuries, but if you don't TELL them it's a textbook they'll never know. For parents and any kid with a high school level vocabulary. Paperback. $13.57.


Parents: with these three books under your belt, you'll be able to hold your own in any theater lobby conversation :)

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