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Books: ballet dictionary

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Guest pointeshoesrox

I was wondering what would be a good ballet dictionary? I am starting up a dance journal and want to be able to look up steps and spell them correctly. Any advice on a book would be wonderful!!!!!!! Thanks!



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Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet is one that is a common reference for various methods of ballet.

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My dad got me The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. This dictionary has everything, it's my favorite dictonary out of the other five dictionarys I have!

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Xandra, I am unfamiliar with this book and I am not able to find it on Amazon. Are you sure it is not called the Oxford Dictionary of Ballet by Koegler? :)

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Another must-have book is the Gretchen Ward Warren Classical Ballet Technique. A bit less complete, but still good.


Another less-complete, but valuable book is The Classic Ballet by Lincoln Kirstein, with technical explanations (!) by Muriel Stuart, who was one of my teachers. The impossibly-perfect technical illustrations are by Carlus Dyer.

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i know i shouldn't be here in YOUNG DANCERS, but hey! vrsfanatic is here, so why not?... (or is vrsfanatic a moderator now?if so, sorry for that cheekiness!)


about horst koegler's Oxford Dictionary of Ballet AND the much newer Oxford dIctorionary of Dance:


koegler, now out of print - the BALLET dictionary from Oxford Books - is of much value (historically, especially) - but the much more recent publication of their DANCE dictionary, by Debra Craine and Judith Mackrell (both British dance critics, to the best of my knowledge - well, Mackrell certainly IS a critic) is of much LESSER value with regard to BALLET specifically. in fact, i have found it either inadequate or potentially innacurate, and would NOT recommend it for the purpose in this thread.


by trying to cover TOO wide a scope (i.e. ALL theatrical dance) they have diluted the focus to the point where their ballet information is inadequate and unreliable.


i have never thought gail grant's book to be particulatrly good, but i have noticed over the years that it seems to be the preferred AMERICAN text - this says to me that it caters to american use of terminology, more than to european or british (and australian) use.


however, gretchen warren's book (OF COURSE!!) seems to rise above this challenge. and while being clearly from an american perspective, it is informed by a worldwide understanding. PLUS: the photos are so helpful.

so, *I* recommend THAT book: Warren's The Art of Classical Ballet.


hope i am forgiven for this intrusion...

Edited by grace
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And a nice second-tier dictionary is Leo Kersley and Janet Sinclair's A Dictionary of Ballet Terms. While joyously incomplete, it often gives familiar contexts for where some steps are found in the classical repertoire. And yes, vrsfanatic is a moderator, and this is Books, Movies..., not Young Dancers.

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Thank you grace for your input. I just Googled it and found it. Amazon must not carry it. I will look for it in our local book store and library.


As for Gail Grant and American terminology...I learned about it from my Jurgen Schneider, a German and Janina Cunova, an Australian, but perhaps that is because it served as a reference point for them in comprehending American usage of terminology? It does however list most terms used in Vaganova, in Russia.


It is nice to hear that the photos in G.W. Warren's book are so helpful. Many of the dancers were members of the now defunct Tampa/Colorado Ballet under the direction of Martin Fredmann and ABT, under Baryishnikov. Ms. Warren does have a good eye for good dancing! :wacko:


As for Koegler, very sad to hear it is out of print. But of course, my edition from 1987 is almost 20 years old. FYI grace, my book was a gift from my late husband, bought at the Sydney Opera House gift shop while my husband was guest teaching for Australian Ballet. He respected Koegler very much. Perhaps that is why I recommend it so much. It has been invaluable to me over the years.


grace, you contributions are always enlightening. Thank you for the information. :thumbsup:

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thanks vrsfanatic :D - nice to be back in touch...


yes, *I* recommend the koegler in preference to the more recent incarnation (of the oxford dictionary), also.


i hope that, when the oxford dictionary of DANCE is updated or re-released, they make an effort to get the ballet terminology RIGHT, and to fill in so many of the currently existing gaps in their BALLET information - which of course would mean producing a much weightier (and therefore likely less saleable) book! it was originally released only a few years ago - hang on, i'll check...


year was 2000, and - obviously - printed by oxford university press (OUP) and printed in USA by OUP, New York. and i see that have misattributed one of the authors, so i will just go back up to my first post here, and correct that: it is by british dance critics/writers, debra craine and judith mackrell.


another EXTREMELY recommendable book - and its quite tiny, soft-covered, easy to carry around...is (Rhonda Ryman's) RAD Dictionary of Classical Ballet Terminology, published 1994 and beautifully descriptive.


of course it makes references to the RAD syllabus - but, so what!?! - one can ignore those, and the info is still brilliant, as one would expect from this particular authority, a notator and productive associate professor at the university of waterloo (canada).

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One of the good things about Ryman is that where they do cross, the RAD term is cross-referenced to Cecchetti.

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Can you find the Gale Grant dictionary in like Barnes and Nobles or do you have to order it online? :D I'd really like to get one soon so that I can study up on all my ballet! :rolleyes: Thanks for any help! :thumbsup:

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Stores like Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. often stock Gail Grant. Call your local stores to find out.

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If you go through Amazon, at the top of this page, BT4D is helped out financially. Remember, it cost money to keep this fabulous website going. Every little bit helps. :rolleyes:

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  • 4 years later...

Can someone tell me what the difference is (if any) between Gail Grant's ballet dictionary published in 1950/1967 and her book of the same title published in 2008? Just wondering if it was updated between publications, or if the later version is the same as the original.

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