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Books: Must read Ballet books for a 13 year old?


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PSB Ballerina

Ok, so there may be a million of these post--and moderators feel free to close this is you think it's unnecessary or just provide me with links to some older threads-- but I wanted to know what are some of your ballet must read books that you highly recommend?

 

I'm making a list of ones I want to read and so far only have a few, so I'd like more! Oh and they should be appropriate for a 13 year old, so nothing too "out there". I'm turning 14 this year and I'm an avid reader. I read many things often considered above my age level in terms of literature and can read way above other kids at my level, so don't be afraid to post some names of adult books! Here's my list:

 

Winter Season: A dancer's memoir by Toni Bentley

Holding onto Air by Suzanne Farrel

Once a dancer by Allegra Kent

Dancing on my grave by Gelsey kirkland (and I think there's a sequel? If so I want to read that one too!)

Girl in Motion

Breaking Pointe

Out of step: A dancer reflects

Where snowflakes dance and swear (I read the preview on my kindle app and loved it!)

So you want to be a ballet dancer

Beyond the Dance: A ballerinas life

A grand passion

Pointe of Danger

Ballet Beautiful (I know I'm 13 but i think it'd be good for cross training to build up stamina etc.)

 

Feel free to recommend any more! Oh and I've read A Company of Swans, Bunheads, and Audition (all of which I recommend!).

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ascballerina

Ballerina: My Story by Darci Kistler

At 13-14, I really liked the Royal Ballet School Diaries

Dancing Through Fire by Kathryn Lasky

I do believe there's a young adult version of Mao's Last Dancer

Beyond the Dance by Chan Hon Goh

 

 

I'll probably think of more later...

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Definitely Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin. The original version is fine for 11 years plus (in my opinion). The young readers edition is a shorter abbreviated version.

 

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  • 2 months later...

Cape Town, its a new one about a girl in Africa who goes to University to become a dancer, and it was in the eighties or nineties or something so it has a lot about political view and racial hate and that kind of stuff. Its also romantic, but its quite interesting. Though it has many Christian references so I wouldn't recommend if that would be a problem.

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Victoria Leigh

While there is certainly a place for the kinds of books being recommended here, and, with a few exceptions in the 5 pages on the previous thread, I find it hard to think that these are the "must read books". I would hope that my teens who are serious about ballet would be reading the history of this great art form, and stories of the people who created it, developed it, and the dancers who became the great stars of the various eras. The Fonteyn book was mentioned in the other thread, and the Maria Tallchief, but how about Pavlova, Nijinsky, Fokine, Diaghilev, Ulanova, Plisetskaya, Karsavina, not to mention more recent history made by Balanchine, Tudor, Ashton, MacMillon, etc. etc. There are books containing the stories of the great ballets, books on the Romantic Era with wonderful lithographs of that era and the dancers Taglioni, Grisi, Grahn, Elssler, Cerrito, and many others. There is a wonderful book called The Ballerinas, by Paremenia Migel, which tells the stories of the Romantic Era ballerinas and it reads like fiction! Agnes deMille wrote several books on ballet history as well as her autobiographies.

 

There are also excellent technique books, especially Classical Ballet Technique, by Gretchen Ward Warren. There are great books on ABT, the Bolshoi, the Kirov, the Danish Ballet, the Royal Ballet, etc. Biographies and autobiographies of so many great dancers! Our young dancers need to be educated in their art form, not just entertained with fiction. :)

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You have a good point, Ms Leigh. But as someone who lived vicariously through many of the characters who went to professional schools in fiction books, as well as in biographies, I would say that fiction and non-fiction both have their place. I would advocate a balance between the two, with a bit more of an emphasis towards non-fiction if I could live in a perfect world.

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The Shape of Love is the title of the sequel to Gersey Kirkland's book. Yes, definitely read Mao's Last Dancer - a truly inspiring life story.

 

I have a fascinating book called Striking a Balance by Barbara Newman. It's a collection of interviews with famous dancers as they reminisce about their life experiences in dance. It ranges from Felia Dubrovska born in 1896 to Nina Ananiashvilli born in 1964 and includes interviews with some 25 dancers. Full of insights and little known facts and personal anecdotes - if you can still get hold of a copy it's definitely one to add to your list.

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  • 2 months later...

While there is certainly a place for the kinds of books being recommended here, and, with a few exceptions in the 5 pages on the previous thread, I find it hard to think that these are the "must read books". I would hope that my teens who are serious about ballet would be reading the history of this great art form, and stories of the people who created it, developed it, and the dancers who became the great stars of the various eras. The Fonteyn book was mentioned in the other thread, and the Maria Tallchief, but how about Pavlova, Nijinsky, Fokine, Diaghilev, Ulanova, Plisetskaya, Karsavina, not to mention more recent history made by Balanchine, Tudor, Ashton, MacMillon, etc. etc. There are books containing the stories of the great ballets, books on the Romantic Era with wonderful lithographs of that era and the dancers Taglioni, Grisi, Grahn, Elssler, Cerrito, and many others. There is a wonderful book called The Ballerinas, by Paremenia Migel, which tells the stories of the Romantic Era ballerinas and it reads like fiction! Agnes deMille wrote several books on ballet history as well as her autobiographies.

 

There are also excellent technique books, especially Classical Ballet Technique, by Gretchen Ward Warren. There are great books on ABT, the Bolshoi, the Kirov, the Danish Ballet, the Royal Ballet, etc. Biographies and autobiographies of so many great dancers! Our young dancers need to be educated in their art form, not just entertained with fiction. :)

 

Hi, Ms. Leigh.

 

It seems most of the books mentioned above (that I can find) are available only as used from third-party sellers with limited information / reviews. Can you tell me more specifically, which of the books you referenced that would be appropriate for a young middle-schooler (i.e., nothing along the lines of the Kirkland books). Perhaps a mix of photos/drawings and information? Both biographies and ballet stories. My daughter found a biography of Maria Tallchief at her school library, and I got the recent Alicia Alonso book for her, but both of those books, while good, are geared towards an even younger reader.

 

Thank you.

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Victoria Leigh

Classical Ballet Technique, by Gretchen Ward Warren is the best. It's a big book with fully illustrated with photos and descriptions of the entire vocabulary of ballet. That should be available at Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com. Have you checked a public library for any of the other books? The school library probably does not have much.

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Thank you for your swift response, Ms. Leigh. I haven't yet been to our local public library (never seem to find the time, but perhaps a trip is in order). We do have Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant, and Dancers Among Us. I'll take a look at the Gretchen Ward Warren book.

 

Are there any biographies you would recommend?

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Victoria Leigh

All of the ones I mentioned above! Many may be out of print, but can be found in second hand book stores and in some libraries. There is also a web site that deals with out of print books. It is called Alibris. http://www.alibris.com

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