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AnastasiaBeav

Education about different ballets

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AnastasiaBeav

How much time do your DKs spend learning about the music and stories of different ballets and who is doing the education?

Last year my DD10 attended a mini SI where they spent the lunch break watching and discussing different ballets. I thought it was such a great idea and something she does not get at her regular ballet academy. Since then I have been more pro-active about taking my DD to ballets and watching videos of ballets so she gets more familiar. I talk about how the music, choreography, and costumes all work together to tell a story. I also figure if she ends up like the majority of young dancers and does not make a career out of it she will always have the knowledge and appreciation for the art form.  

Have you thought about this and if so, what do you do?

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AB'sMom

Our school starts having a one hour class once per week that alternates between Dance History, Music Appreciation, Health & Wellness, Mime for Dance, etc. when the kids are about 12. I have also purchased two different books that explain the stories, music and history of particular ballets:

101 Stories of the Great Ballets by George Balanchine and Francis Mason (Paperback, all text)

ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story, consultant Viviana Durante (hardcover, DK publishing) This one may be great for a 10 year-old. It is packed with photos and timelines. It is arranged chronologically and each section covers important dancers, choreographers, composers, opera houses, costumes, etc. The book is beautiful and contains so much information, but is presented in a way that won’t make the eyes of a busy young ballet student glaze over. It isn’t a children’s book, so it isn’t overly simple, either  

 

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AnastasiaBeav

AB’sMom,

Lucky kids to have that instruction! 

I am putting that book on my gift list for DD. It looks wonderful.

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GingerMama

As far as I can tell there’s nothing like that at our studio. I bought this book for DD to give her a background:

https://smile.amazon.com/Childs-Introduction-Ballet-Stories-Classical/dp/1579126995/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2DJ57OQ8XXLZN&keywords=101+stories+of+the+great+ballets&qid=1564090512&s=gateway&sprefix=101+stories+of+great%2Caps%2C208&sr=8-2

I did the same with some specific to The Nutcracker. I wish there was more content available for younger ages in an easy to take in way. Those other books look great for when my DD is older!

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AnastasiaBeav

One thing I did not mention is that the Bolshoi Ballet does live simulcasts of their performances shown in movie theaters. They are usually Sunday mornings as the company schedules the shows late Sunday night in Russia. 

It is a relatively cheaper way to experience live ballet performances:
https://www.bolshoiballetincinema.com/

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GingerMama

What a great idea! Thanks so much Anastasia!

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DanceMumNYC

DD has only had dance history, workshops, & seminars at her SIs. This summer, she also has variations for the 1st time & finds it extremely fun! I do wish that dance history & variations were part of her school’s year-round curriculum at this age (as opposed to only being for teens), because it teaches the kids a lot & they often dance/perform better when there’s a story behind the piece. Things are briefly mentioned in class sometimes, but not enough to get a full understanding of the piece or topic.

I’ve been taking DD to the ballet (ABT & NYCB) every year for several years now. When possible, we also support local dance performances from smaller companies & schools. DD loves performing, but watching the performances teaches her so much & she always walks away more inspired. 

Before & after each performance, we discuss the ballet’s theme & choreography. Over time, she’s been able to determine what type of choreography she likes best & choose favorite choreographers. We also discuss costumes, from favorite tutus that she’d love to dance in someday to most uncomfortable lol. We often look into the dancers’ bios & discuss their journeys & the amount of training it took to get there. Some dancers have written memoirs, so we’ve been reading those too. I do wish she spent more time watching older dance videos & getting to know pioneer ballerinas, but she usually saves that for school (women’s) history projects. 

DD is also a pianist & likes to go home after a performance to learn the songs from the ballet we’ve just seen—sometimes by ear, other times by looking up sheet music. Her music teachers are also very supportive of her dancing & she is also at the level where she can sometimes be given a musical piece from a ballet to practice & perform (usually Tchaikovsky). This is when she studies the history & rudiments of the piece & sees how it’s appropriate for said ballet.

I think most of the education at this level happens out of the studio, but that’s not to discredit what’s happening in the studio at all. As with academics, it’s a good mixture of being educated at home & at (dance) school.

Thank you for the book recommendations! 

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AnastasiaBeav
6 hours ago, DanceMumNYC said:

Before & after each performance, we discuss the ballet’s theme & choreography. Over time, she’s been able to determine what type of choreography she likes best & choose favorite choreographers. 

That is a great idea. I have been focused on "remedial ballet" but love the idea to focus on who the choreographers are.

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Ballet2101

The Royal Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet both provide simulcast and delayed showings of many of the classics. For Royal search their live cinema season, and for Bolshoi check Fathom events.  They also offer Opera if you are interested.  It’s a great way to expose your kids a great series of dance.  We have them on our calendars and try to attend each showing as a family. 

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rane

We just barely came back from the library with an assortment of fiction and nonfiction ballet books. I was pleasantly surprised at the selection in the children’s section and adult nonfiction section.

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AnastasiaBeav

I wanted to revive this topic as our dancers are not actually dancing and have time to learn more about the art of ballet.  My DD10 gets Pointe and Dance Spirit magazines and we were looking through the new issue and I pointed out a column by Kathryn Morgan. I got an idea to have my DD go through old magazines and research some of the more famous dancers featured in articles. I am going to have her write short biographies on the dancers she chooses. 

After that I will have her do the same on dance companies and understand their style and history (Miami City - Balanchine) (Mariinsky Ballet - Vaganova) (NYCB - Balanchine) (Royal Ballet - Cecchetti-ish).

Does anyone have additional ideas for utilizing this time for our dancers to learn more of the academic side of ballet?

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Amie

Great ideas AnastasiaBeav.  DD (now 20) managed to insert dance learning into a number of school research projects.  Most of these were in middle school and high school but I think they are worth mentioning.  She learned a lot of history through research about various eras of dance and how they related to different time periods (how they were affected by the ideas of the times and how they also contributed to those ideas).  She specifically knows a lot about the Romantic period.  But there are many eras, like post WWII and how US used dance to combat the spread of communism.  Like you suggested, DD also did research on specific dancers (ballet, modern, even current choreographers).   She combined psychology and dance for another project, the anxiety, the stress, similarities to sports, etc.  She also read a book about the physics of dance, which she really enjoyed.  She did a choreographic project combining math formulas and dance.  I think she used different movements to represent parts of formulas, tore them apart, combined them etc.  She also combined French and ballet, since many of the steps are in the French language.  Wow, until now I never realized all that she did. 

Other ideas:  Ballet and geometry - finding examples of shapes, angles, etc. in the ballet body or among a group of dancers.  How dancers try to give the illusion of a line not a line segment and what this looks like, find examples of dancers who are successful at creating lines and rays.  Dance and anatomy - learning about the muscles and what you need to do various ballet steps.  What can be done to prevent certain injuries?  Dance and psychology - how/why dance helps Parkinson's and other diseases, disabilities, and mental health.  Dance and law - research various contracts and see what dancers are paid as well as some of the language that protects them from things like long hours, injury, etc.  Why might that language be there?  Dance and history - research not just the dancers, companies, and choreographers, but manufacturers of pointe shoes, make up, costumes, etc.  Dance and culture - research different styles of dance in different cultures.  What do they have in common, what makes them different?  Try them out?  Which do you like and why?  Dance and science - what are some technological advances in dance and how do they help - pointe shoes, flooring, even past changes like no lead in make-up or switch from gas to electric lighting.  Dance and literature- read the plays or stories that some ballets are based on.  Compare/contrast these with the ballets.  Write your own story for a ballet or adapt a story you've read (even a nursery rhyme or children's story) into a ballet story - what would it look like? 

Hope all of this helps!

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DanceMumNYC

Those are great suggestions, Amie. Thank you for sharing them.

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AnastasiaBeav

Thanks for the great ideas Amie!

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