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learning names of steps


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I'm keen to learn technique ( mainly so I can analyse ballets - I'm too old to actually dance). I go to class but it is very slow and very basic. I have Ward Warren's book but get confused. Does anyone know if you can get a sort of script for say Giselle so you could follow the DVD and actually SEE the steps. In wonderful Ballet 101, RG has done some exposition which I relish but a script like a music score would be invaluable.

Of course special notation would be of no use to me. It's the names of steps I want. Do such scripts exist?

Other suggestions on how to learn fast would be appreciated as well.

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Hm, well personally I have never heard of such scripts, but there are DVDs (like ABT's "The Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet") in which demonstrations of the steps are combined with the display and pronunciation of their names - maybe that would help you?

I find it much easier to follow than trying to piece together pictures and descriptions in a book. :)

A lot can also be seen here at the Ballet Dictionary of the ABT website by the way, if you didn't have that link yet.


I think once you are familiar with the basic idea of most steps, you will recognise them (in their many disguises! :o) on your own in any ballet, so you wouldn't need a script.

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Cyril W. Beaumont's good old The Ballet Called Giselle has a relentlessly Cecchetti nomenclature rendering of the ballet's choreography. He did the same thing in his The Ballet Called Swan Lake, too.

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Thank you both. I have tried the dictionary but like following the written description - slower!! I shall look for the beaumont books. I did wish - elsewhere - that choreographers or critics could talk us through a ballet on a separate track of the DVDs. Like directors do on films like Lord of Rings. That would be my idea of learning heaven.

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Do you speak French at all? I would think that studying french verbs would be a quick way to start piecing together an understanding of ballet vocabulary. Plier, relever, tomber is easy once you get that it's to fold, to rise, and to fall:)


I always took french as my language classes in high school and college because of ballet.


It gives a good understanding of the purpose and physical motivation of the steps as well. I always wondered if ballet students who are native French speakers have a more innate understanding of steps early in training. If they glide and fall and fold a bit more naturally. If someone had told me to "glide, slip, or skid" instead of "glissade" in ballet class when I was learning...the step may actually have looked smoother, instead of like a hiccup :shrug: The perception of native french speakers toward ballet study must be a bit different. Would be interesting to examine and study, though I'm not sure how :P

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Lampwick, you're right . I have a little french and it does help. I guess i need to be a little more patient - not really a virtue of mine. But it's never too late.

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I totally agree about the French and I try and translate for my students all the time - it really does help them to remember. However, I would just like to add that tombe only means to fall or drop down - where did you get the fold or rise from?

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I understand that "plier" is "to fold" and "relever" is "to rise". Or something along those lines....my french is very basic. :shrug:


I got fold and rise from the french verbs that I mentioned; plie, and releve :P

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Plier actually means "to bend", but "to fold" in a sense similar to doubling a sheet of paper without creasing it is also acceptable. Relever means "to pull up" or "rise again". One has already risen to stand.

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In terms of "ballet scripts like music scores"... check out Labanotation



"Labanotation is a system of analysing and recording of human Movement. The original inventor is the (Austrian-) Hungarian Rudolf von Laban (1879-1958) an important figure in European modern dance. He published this notation first 1928 as "Kinetographie" in the first issue of "Schrifttanz". Several people continued the development of the notation. In the U.S.A. among others by Ann Hutchinson Guest to the notation known as "Labanotation". In Germany among others by Albrecht Knust to the notation known as "Kinetographie Laban". This two systems differ a little in the writing and analysis (approximately. 5%): they could not get together to a common system (I only support Labanotation)."


Too bad it's not used more often.

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There are a number of different notation systems for dance. Labanotation is the most general, but also in some ways more difficult to use than others; you can notate any kind of dance with it. Other notation forms are ballet-specific.


In any case, dance transcription is considered a specialized skill, and only a very small number of dance professionals are proficient in it (or even know how to do it at all). For the rest of us, video tape reigns supreme.

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