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New to ballet

David Ridge

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Hello to all. When I say new to ballet that's not quite correct! I've been collecting ballets on DVD for sometime. But I don't know how to appreciate what 

I'm watching! I've never trained as a ballet dancer, so I find it frustrating not knowing whats going on. Is there any advice you could give on how to enjoy ballet more, given  the confines where all now in?

All the best




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Welcome Dave! I would advise you to trust your own responses--if you are collecting and watching ballets on DVD then obviously you are appreciating what you are seeing. And when you find something especially moving or beautiful you probably ask your self why? Or if it resembles another performance you especially liked--and what the resemblance was? You may have noticed you like a certain kind of dancer or a certain kind of choreography etc.

It's not that one can't learn more technically about what one is watching--of course one can--but one doesn't have to study ballet to gain insight into what the art form is doing....

(There are some books written for newcomers to ballet. Unfortunately I'm not really up-to-date on that. I did listen to parts of Laura Jacobs Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet  on audible--and liked some of it a lot and some of it not at all! (But the book wasn't really aimed at an old ballet-goer so my reaction may not be a fair gauge.) A very respected critic named Robert Greskovic wrote a book called Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet. Unfortunately, I haven't read it so I can't weigh in...but I bet it is worth a look.)

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Trust your own, as Drew says! If you don't have access to live performances, dig into videos. Compare different versions. One important, to me, issue in regards to ballet viewing is to define what aspect of the art form is more interesting to you. Hardcore ballet fans, or balletomannes, seem to fall into certain categories. Some of us , like myself, dwell more into the historical side of it. Performance history, reconstructions, recreations, and the like. Some others are more into dancers. They might be at stage doors getting pictures and autographs. Sort of the grupie type. Some might be ex dancers or ex ballet students themselves. Some of us, like myself, might focus more on the technical aspect of dancers, while others worship theatricals and dramatically driven performers.

My advise...? Watch a lot of the same ballet. Different versions....different dancers. At some point you will realize that "Oh...I didn't see THAT on that other performance!", and so you eye gets trained. 

A more focused advise...? Start your journey in a chronological way. With the oldest Romantic period ballets. Then go to Russia, Petipa and the classics, step then into Paris and Diaghilev and finally move to America and Balanchine. Of course....there are many other choreographers, but that would be a good guide I think. 

Good luck!

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