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Although my daughter is in ballet classes 6 days a week, "classes" are not offered in dance history. I have bought several books and videos but not being a dancer myself, I am interested in those that you (who are more knowledgable) feel are classics to be seen/read. With Christmas coming, I would like to buy some - so any links to good sites/stores to purchase them would be appreciated. Thanks.

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rg may well know some, but I can't think of very many videos that cover dance history. There's one with background info on ballet called "Footnotes" but I wouldn't recommend it.

You might dig around in the Books, Magazines and Critics thread -- there are several old threads about favorite books, basic books, etc., and I think you'll find some ideas there. (If everything doesn't show, and posts seem to stop a month back, you can pull up older threads by goiing to the little slidey window to the top right of the board and moving it to Show All Posts)

You can buy books (DVDs, CDs and sandblasters) from Amazon through the link on the top of the board; we get a small commission if you do.

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Princeton Books puts out a pre-ballet history in 2 videocassettes (each is somewhat short) called:

Early Dance Part 1: From the Greeks to the Renaisssance


EarlyDance Part 2: The Baroque Era.

these are decent overviews of the dance history before ballet as we now know it came into its own.

otherwise there isn't much reliable on the video market as dance/ballet history.

individual ballets are, of course, on video and in some cases on DVD. if you were to ask about specific titles that you feel would be of interest you'd likely find a number of opinions and tips about what's proven popular and useful to readers of this site.

alas, as noted here, fonteyn's 'magic of the dance' series isn't available commercially.

the book that accompanied the series is probably out of print but also probably still gettable on bibliofind, etc.

still, the most useful visual explication on tape is not so easy to get hold of, unless you know a balletminded friend who might have taped the series when it was run or re-run on PBS.

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Good point, Victoria. I'd forgotten that. I would put out one caveat, that there are some oddities on that tape, if I'm remembering correctly, one of them being the lack of Balanchine footage -- a copyright problem, I think. But it's still worth watching.

Robert Greskovic's "Ballet 101" is a guide about ballet in general, with historical information AND a videography -- information about all the different ballet videos available, so that might be something of interest. We recommend it for anyone new to ballet, or wanting to learn more.

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There is a series called Footnotes: The Classics of Ballet, available on Amazon and Kultur, which I keep coming across when searching for ballet videos. I have never actually seen any of the videos, but they include explanations, interviews, and clips with some of the greatest ballet dancers ever. Can anybody who has actually seen these comment?

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Yes, gingerly. There's some interesting dancing on them, but some of the information about the ballets is not accurate. There are interviews with dancers telling what they've been told about ballets -- some of it is perhaps half-heard, half-remembered -- and it's presented as if it were history, and it isn't. It's the kind of video that, if I were a parent or teacher, I'd only let a child see it who already had some context in which to place it.

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I don't have an extensive background, but some good historical videos are available at the NYCB gift shop ... Balanchine on Balanchine and various Balanchine ballets with commentary by either Balanchine or one of the principals following the performance. I'm not certain I've seen this listed on Amazon ... if you are a member of the NYCB Guild, there is a 10% discount ...

Also, the Royal Ballet Gift Shop, in Covent Garden, has an excellent collection of books on the history of dance, the history of ballet, and the history of specific dancers and choreographers ... it's the best collection I've seen in my travels. I don't believe it's available for online ordering and there is no discount for Friends of the Royal Ballet. Their DVD and video collection is awesome ... BUT BEWARE ... most of the DVDs are encoded for Region 2 (Europe), so they'll only play on a player that can handle Region 2; and most of the videos are VHS/PAL rather than VHS/NTSC, so they may not play properly on US based equipment ...

Hope this helps,


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