Jump to content

This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Dance Books

  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Paquita


    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 434 posts

Posted 02 April 1999 - 06:32 PM

I'm sure many of us have read several books on dance, as there are so many out there. So I wanted to start a thread where we could post the books we've read and what we thought, and an overall rating...So here it goes:
*The Young Dancer ( Darcey Bussell contributed) is very informative and clear for young dancers without being patronizing. Good for girls under 12 who are ballet obsessed!
*Margot Fonteyn's autobiography is very good. But I'm not done reading it yet! It may be kind of hard to find.
*Karen Kain: Movement Never Lies. An autobiography. This is my #1 favourite book. I've only seen her perform once and I do admire her but I didn't buy it because I was a huge fan at the time, it was just on sale. But she gives such good insight on the hardships of the dancing world, with deep reflection on the joy and passion of performing. I *highly* recommend this to anyone. It's inspiring.
*Kimberly Glasco ( profiles of Canadian dance). I really thin, small book i found in the library. It's only 30 pages and I must stress very small and softcover. But it was written in the 80's in the earlier years of her career and had some good quotes and photos.

There's more but I can't really remember the titles and authors. But here are some titles I want to read, and if any of you have could you please reply:
~Marakova: the Legend by: Leonard Maurice
~Advice for Dancers by: Linda Hamilton
~The NYC Ballet Workout by:Peter Martins
~The Dancer's Body book by Allegra Kent
~Classical Russian Technique by:???
~MissO- My life in dance by: Betty Oliphant

#2 Guest_Lugo_*

  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 02 April 1999 - 08:30 PM

Hi Paquita - I have read several of the books you have, and also The Dancers Body Book by Allegra Kent with James and Constance Cammer.

This is a lovely little paperback that is designed for dancers. It addresses tips, and helpful knowlege from professional dancers about how to eat and keep their bodies slim, healthy, energetic, and in top dance form.
The contributors include Ashley, Baryshnikov, Bujones, D'Amboise, Farrell, McBride, Watts, Harvey, Danilova, Jaffe, etc. and is great for anyone interested in the life of the dancer.(not bad eating and exercise tips for the "regular folk" too eh?)

The books that i absolutely LOVE are:

First and Foremost:
1)"Classical Ballet Technique" by Gretchen Ward Warren. (This is the most comprehensive technique book i have seen to date, includes something like 2400 photographs, and was designed "...for teachers and students of ballet, for dance professionals, and for all who marvel at the beauty and strength of the classically trained dancer." )

2)"Dancers Complete Guide to Healthcare & A Long Career" by Allan J. Ryan M.D. and Robert E. Stephens Ph.D.

3)"Striking a Balance" revised edition - by Barbara Newman (Dancers Talk about Dancing -it's wonderful!)

4)"The Art of Teaching Ballet" - Ten Twentieth-Century Masters - by Gretchen Ward Warren (this so far has been my favorite to read!!!)

5)"Tribute - Celebrating Fifty Years of New York City Ballet" (beautiful "coffee table" type book - Wonderful writing/poetry pictures and paintings - I love it!)

6)"To A Young Dancer" - by Angnes de Mille
(not sure if it is still in print i have a copy from 1967 when i was 10 years old - i had the opportunity to work with her in NY so this one, is very special to me

7)"Dancing Star" by Gladys Malvern(?)- (in my old trunk at home with my mom) - my favorite and probably first ballet book - written for kids about Anna Pavlova. But i love it as an adult too.*G*

7a) "To Dance To Dream" - read and loved as a child - but mixed up the title and story in my mind with "Dancing Star"

8)"The Pointe Shoe Book" - by Janice Barringer and Sarah Schlesinger (great resource book for dancers - and for those interested in what pointe shoes are made of, how dancers get fittings, problems that pointe shoes cause, etc.)

(9)"Inside Ballet Technique" by Valerie Grieg
(really an anatomy/kinesiology type book for more advanced dancers/teachers)

- These next books are more compilations of different ballets/works and are all good in there own way:

10)"101 Stories of the Great Ballets" by George Balanchine and Fancis Mason

11)"Ballet 101 - a complete guide to learning and loving the Ballet" by Robert Greskovic, forward by Mikhail Baryshnikov

12)"Dance Classics - a viewers guided to the best loved ballets and Modern Dances" by Nancy Reynolds and Susan Reimer-Torn. (This one has dances divided into categories - Romanticism, Classicism, Comedy, Traditional 20th Century, Early Ballet, Modern Ballet, and Modern and Contemporary Dance.)

There is, of course, last but by all means not least, a most highly recommended book (i do not have this one myself):
"The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Ballet" by Koegler

OK, Hope that gives you some new ones to check out. *S*

Much Aloha

[This message has been edited by Lugo (edited April 03, 1999).]

#3 Giannina


    Gold Circle

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 844 posts

Posted 03 April 1999 - 03:13 PM

Paquita and I must have been on the same wave length; I was just about ready to "talk" about some books I've read (my treasure trove from Christmas.) I finished "Inside Ballet Technique" by Valerie Grieg yesterday (mentioned by Lugo) and found it fascinating. I would not limit it to advanced teachers and dancers; there's a wealth of information in there that serves a double purpose: explains the physical aspect of ballet, and makes you realize how incredibly difficult ballet is. David, if you haven't read a book like this I would recommend it as you help your daughter make possible career decisions.

I began my reading with "The Romantic Ballet in Paris" by Ivor Guest; I was inspired (by Alexandra) to read this when I couldn't come up with one answer to the Quiz on POB. Finding the book was the biggest challenge; reading it was an education. It covers a mere 30 years of ballet history, starting with 1827; though the book is crammed with dates and a lot of French terms/names it moves swiftly, a tribute to Guest. Ballet in those days was something quite different than today. "Romeo & Juliet, the Love Story in Dance" by Nancy Ellison was a lot of pretty pictures and nothing more. "Dance Writings and Poetry" by Edwin Denby was beyond me, as I mentioned in another post. Some of his articles were of great interest, but many more concerned facets of ballet that I don't understand. Maybe some day. Darcey Bussell's "Life in Dance" was light reading; interesting though she wrote more about celebrity life than I wanted to know. "Frederick Ashton and His Ballets" by David Vaughan was excellent. I wish I had read it before I read "Secret Muses" by Julie Kavanagh; the former concentrates on his choreography (with tons of photos) and would have made a good introduction to the 2nd, which is broader and covers not only his life but the lives (and gossip) of those with whom he worked. I'm now whizzing through "Let's Go On" by Wayne Johnson, a book celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pacific Northwest Ballet. This caught my eye mostly because of Olivier's posts; informative.


[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited April 03, 1999).]

#4 Giannina


    Gold Circle

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 844 posts

Posted 03 April 1999 - 07:03 PM

Ooops; forgot a book. Obviously it didn't make much of an impression. With great eagerness I read "The Ballet Called Swan Lake" by Cyril Beaumont, since his book "The Ballet Called Giselle" is one of my favorites. "....Swan Lake" did not measure up. All the explainations of steps and gestures given in "...Giselle" that made the ballet come alive for me were missing in "...Swan Lake". Rats!


#5 Guest_Lugo_*

  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 03 April 1999 - 07:04 PM

Giannia *S* - i am sooo thrilled that you liked "Inside Ballet Technique"! It is one of my favorites, but i hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than dancers and teachers.

Paquita - this was a terrific idea, i love to read!! Thank you!

and Aloha

p.s. i edited my post above - see book number 7) and 7a) (i had the title mixed up)*s*

[This message has been edited by Lugo (edited April 03, 1999).]

#6 Giannina


    Gold Circle

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 844 posts

Posted 17 April 1999 - 08:58 AM

Alexandra...in a post on the Dancers thread you were talking about Bussell's book and said, "don't take everything she says about her roles as gospel". I recently finished reading her book and wondered what you meant.


[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited April 17, 1999).]

#7 Alexandra


    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,301 posts

Posted 17 April 1999 - 09:36 AM

Oh, dear. I was thinking particularly of what she said about Aurora, how she (Bussell/Aurora) in the third act was trying to tell the story of how "Aurora gets her man" but she had to bother with those silly steps that got in the way of the story.

"Sleeping Beauty" isn't a love story, it's about dynasty. (My absolutely favorite Sleeping B quote is from Danilova: "Princess must be little bit snitty." Aurora hasn't "gotten her man." She's dancing at a formal court wedding with her predestined consort.

I meant that kind of thing. Several reviewers have pointed this out; I mentioned it because I couldn't let a new generation of Auroras look at the ballet that way without a caution.


p.s. Juliet throwing up isn't a very classical attitude, either, although that is a matter of opinion, rather of fact. In my opinion, "classical" ballet isn't supposed to be realistic. There's an artifice, a distance, an objectivity. If MacMillan wanted them to worry about whether they'd vomit the sleeping potient, it's his ballet and he can do it. But Aurora doesn't get her man.

#8 Guest_pointe&click_*

  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 18 April 1999 - 02:16 PM

I have read "The NYCB Workout." It was hard at first to understand all the exercises. Some were helpful, like the stretches and the abs workout, but others were kind of basic for a dancer. They teach tendus and other basic steps of ballet using normal language. Kind of a waste for someone who already knows the steps. The combinations are good though, and they tell just want to concentrate on. Also, once you have figured out all the exercises, you can do certain combinations of them in order to achieve your specific goals. For instance, there is a workout for football players or just concentrating on abs. And the last part of the book recommends music to listen to while you do the workout. The pictures are excellent. I haven't really stuck with the workout though because I was pretty bored by it. The stretches are good though.

"Dancing on my Grave" and "The Shape of Love" by Gelsey Kirkland and Greg Lawrence: First you read about all the hardships she goes through in the first book, and then read about the happy ending in the second. "Shape of Love" was my favorite because it talked about how she developed her character for Juliet, and how she teaches younger dancers.

"Russian Ballet Technique" by Agrippina Vaganova: Hard to read straight through, but if you flip through, you can find some great explanations of steps and the proper execution. My teacher refers to it during class whenever we don't understand what he is asking from us.

"Holding Onto Air" by Suzanne Farrell: Very inspiring. I really enjoy reading about how dancers make it. I love to use this one against my mother: "Suzanne Farrell's mother moved to NY so her daughter could audition at SAB, so they least you can do is . . ." *wink*

"Ballet Dictionary" is great for learning to spell all the terms, or finding the exact name for a step. Good reference.

"Pointe Book" is the most used out of all my dance books. The poor thing is just about to fall apart at the seams from use. Great tips and explanations. Even pointe class examples for teachers.

That's all I've read so far. I'm reading "Tributes" right now, and so far it is absolutely inspiring. I love the poems they include, and the pictures are fabulous!


#9 Guest_Juliet Shore_*

Guest_Juliet Shore_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 18 April 1999 - 02:17 PM

Danilova generally has the most amusing quotations on most things!

Thanks for a great list of books, everyone.

Am I the only person who's really enjoyed the new Nureyev biography by Diane Solway? I think she did an excellent job.

#10 Guest_Lugo_*

  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 19 April 1999 - 03:27 AM

Juliet *S* Thanks for the reminder! - i saw that book at Borders awhile back, and meant to purchase it a little later. Then "got into" a bunch of other books, and forgot. I am so glad you said that, now i will go pick up a copy. *S*


#11 Pamela Moberg

Pamela Moberg

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 591 posts

Posted 20 April 1999 - 04:58 PM

Thanks everybody for great lists! Here comes some of mine.
My ballet library is rather extensive - as for myself I am very fond of bios. But for the serious student of ballet there are two books which in my opinion are excellent, sensible, straightforward and to be warmly recommended. They are:-
1. "Ballet - from the first plie to mastery -
an eight-year course".
2. "Both sides of the mirror: the science and art of ballet".
Both these books are written by Anna Paskevska who once was my fellow student with Madame Cleo Nordi in London. As Ms. Paskevska points out: "There is a straight line from Vestris-Bournonville-Johansson-Legat-Nordi". It cannot be purer than that. These books should also be read cover to cover by parents of dance pupils.
Then of course, we have the old "Basic principles..." by Vaganova. An oldie, but still holds good - illustrations, though are plain awful.

#12 Lillian



  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 52 posts

Posted 20 April 1999 - 05:43 PM

Juliet, I also loved the Nureyev biography. I couldn't put it down. I also recommend the book "To Dance" by Valery Panov which is a small taste of what he and Galina Panova had to struggle through. What a beautiful dancer she was! And he must have been a wonderful Hamlet.
I also recommend a book mentioned by Alexandra called "Dance is a Contact Sport" by Joseph Manzo which is a gossipy book (a bit hard to find) about NYCB in the seventies. Lots of Gelsey Kirkland bits. Good light ballet read.
I quite like the Steven Caras Balanchine picture book and just ordered an out of print Caras book on Peter Martins from Amazon.com. I've been trying to track it down for years.
I did not enjoy "Tributes" as much as many of you. I wish they'd come out with a book similar to that of Lincoln Kirstein's "New York City Ballet".

#13 Guest_LeslieMak_*

  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 20 April 1999 - 09:58 PM

[The orginal message was deleted.]

Sorry, Leslie. This is a discussion board. No spam, no commercials allowed. You're more than welcome to join those discussions, but please don't post any information about products. Thanks.


[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited April 21, 1999).]

#14 dirac


    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 29,665 posts

Posted 20 April 1999 - 11:25 PM

I would like to plug Merrill Ashley's autobiography from almost 20 years ago, "Dancing for Balanchine." It's different from many ballerina autobiographies in that she discusses many nuts-and-bolts aspects of training and performing that other dancers don't go into. This may have something to do with the fact that she was not a spectacular teenage prodigy dancing Concerto Barocco at seventeen. It took some time, and I think it gives her account an unusual perspective.

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases. (If it doesn't appear below, your computer's or browser's adblockers may have blocked display):