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Ballet books and ballet films and documentaries


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Hello everyone!

I love to read books about ballet and to see ballet movies and documentaries (not recordings of ballet performances though!) . I think here we can share suggestions with each other about those books and films we like and recommend. :)

 

All the following I've seen or read and recommend highly: In no particular order:

 

Books:

Nureyev by Kavanagh

Apollo's Angels by Jennifer Homens

White Swan, Black Swan by Adrienne Sharp (fiction)

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal by Toni Bentley

Margot Fonteyn by M. Daneman

 

 

Does anyone know of any good novels set in the world of ballet or about ballet dancers? Nothing beats a novel for putting you in the mind of a real ballerina/ballet dancer!

 

Documentaries:

Ballerina*   - follows 5 of the greatest ballerinas of Bolshoi/Mariinsky early in their careers

La Danse - Paris Opera Ballet

A Beautiful Tragedy*  - 

Bolshoi Babylon

Svetlana Zakharova - La Tsarine de la Danse*

A Ballerina's Tale

Ballet 422

L'ame de la Danse - Lopatkina*

Nureyev: Dancing Through Darkness*

From Russia with Love: Nureyev BBC*

 

 

* = available on Youtube at time of posting

 

Films/TV 

The Red Shoes (famous but now a bit dated.)

Black Swan

Company (Altman)

Flesh and Bone (US mini-series) trailer: 

 

Any others?

Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my all time favourite books is one I used to read out of my primary school library. Jacqui`s Ballet Book, featuring Jacqui Tallis. It was written in the sixties,when Jacqui was a dancer with a small British ballet company called Harlequin Ballet. She later joined the Royal Ballet. I would take it out of the school library and read it over and over again. Many years later,and I now have my own copy of the book. Bought from Alibris Books in the US. It has the original dust jacket on it. Someone in the UK was selling a copy a few years back for £40.00. Crikey. Mine coming over from the States,together with the import charges was still cheaper than that. But to have my own copy of a book I loved so much in primary school is just magic.

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In fact,most of the ballet books I have are ones I used to either borrow from the library and I now have or else I used to have.When me and my son moved to Ireland in 1999 with our entire house contents,it wasn`t quite the ENTIRE house contents. All my beloved ballet books,most of which I had had since I was little had to be left behind. There just wasn`t room in the van for a single thing more. I have spent the last decade or so re-acquiring most if not all these books I used to love. Margot Fonteyn`s autobiography and her Magic of Dance,all the Princess and Princess Tina Ballet Annuals, Beginners Please by Kay Ambrose,Understanding Ballet by Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp,Better Ballet by Richard Glasstone Every Child`s Book of Dance and Ballet and The Girl`s Book of Ballet ,both by A.H.Franks, Leningrad`s Ballet by John Gregory,and about 50 others. Not including about eight different books about Anna Pavlova,including three copies of Her Art and Life ,written in 1932 by Victor Dandre.

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I'd go back to my childhood love of the The Wells books by Lorna Hill.

 

There's also a really good autobiography by Michaela DePrince called Taking Fight. Her journey from orphan in Sierra-Leone to professional dancer is truly remarkable.

Edited by Rachelm
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i read a very interesting book about Maina Gielgud and her time as director of the Australian ballet -a very honest and informative account, not sure who it was by.

Different Drummer the biography of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry is another good read ,

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I'd go back to my childhood love of the The Wells books by Lorna Hill.

 

The Wells books were part of my childhood too, and what got me into dancing. Not all of them are that brilliant, looking back on it, but I'm not embarrassed to say that I can still very much enjoy the first two, A Dream of Sadler's Wells and Veronica at the Wells.

 

In terms of non-fiction, The Ballet Lover's Companion anyone? And for documentaries I seem to recall an interesting one about Misty Copeland...

 

[Edit: I just remembered a YA/children's book called Company of Swans, which I've not yet had a chance to read, but is definitely on this theme.]

Edited by VickyPage
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Not many books are written about ballet teachers. One of those that I would recommend is:

 

Meinertz A., Vera Volkova – Only the Dance, Alton, Dance Books Ltd., 2007

 

Volkova's classes and rehearsals were treasured by: Carla Fracci, Alicia Alonso, Erik Bruhn, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Moira Shearer, Henning Kronstam, Gillian Lynne, Violetta Elvin, Rudolf Nureyev, Peter Martins, Sir Peter Wright, Eva Evdokimova...... the list will be long.
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I have longed to find a book called A Star Danced about Pavlova. I can't remember who wrote it. She also wrote a book about Eileen Joyce, the pianist. They were directed towards the younger reader. I loved Ballet Shoes too, Noel Streathfield I think. Loved film White Nights too. However don't trust my memory these days!

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Jillykins,

 

"I have longed to find a book called A Star Danced about Pavlova. I can't remember who wrote it."

 

It was written by Gladys Malvern. Full title is Dancing Star: the story of Anna Pavlova, published 1942. There is a Kindle edition available on Amazon and second-hand print version.

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I am desperate to find a Y A book called "A Circling Star" by Mara Kay about a child at the Mariinsky ballet school during the last years of the 19th century. I read it as a child.

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I am desperate to find a Y A book called "A Circling Star" by Mara Kay about a child at the Mariinsky ballet school during the last years of the 19th century. I read it as a child.

Have you tried Alibris Books and their US counterpart Fiz?

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Think one copy was £265.00. But there were other cheaper copies ,but maybe the condition was not as good.

One is £65.21. But it is being sold by World of Books who are fantastic and I always use.Next price up,the seller is in the States,so I don't know if they do free postage to the UK ,but I doubt it. Is your birthday coming up where your hubby could treat you??

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The book about Volkova is well worth reading. You may be surprised to discover what a significant part Vera Volkova played in creating the reputation of the Sadler's Wells Company internationally  in the post war years. Another book about a distinguished pedagogue is the biography of Alexander Pushkin who taught Soloviev, Nureyev and Baryshnikov.

 

Other books to read;-

 

1) Constant Lambert by Stephen Lloyd. Balanchine was convinced that it was Lambert who was the real reason for the success of Sadler's Wells Ballet on its first visit to New York. Lambert advised Ashton on music and adapted the works of nineteenth century composers  for use in his ballets.

 

2) The Making of Markova by Tina Sutton. A very thorough account of Markova's life but the writer's style is a bit of a trial.

 

3) A book about Balanchine's early life in Russia which covers his family background, early training and early work as a choreographer which I think is called Balanchine and the Lost Muse.It is spoilt by the author's insistence on telling the reader what Balanchine must have been thinking but it is well worth persevering with it as it deals with the period before Balanchine was Balanchine.

Edited by FLOSS
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Two books to look out for.Sir Peter Wright's autobiography will be out soon. 

This is now able to be pre-ordered on Amazon.  The title is "Wrights & Wrongs".  The release date is said to be tomorrow (June 1st) but sometimes Amazon has inaccurate release date information....

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This is now able to be pre-ordered on Amazon.  The title is "Wrights & Wrongs".  The release date is said to be tomorrow (June 1st) but sometimes Amazon has inaccurate release date information....

 

 

 

I think that is probably right (pardon the pun).  I got notification of an event in Birmingham towards the end of June, which I sadly can't go to.

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