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Ballet for a novice


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Hello to one and all. This will be my first post, so here goes! I have always enjoyed watching ballet, though I would not call myself a balletomane just yet. The best way I enjoy watching ballet is at home on DVD. But while I'm watching the ballet, it often crosses my mind, whats going on? I know nothing about the years of training that a ballet dancer learns, which to me is something I would really like to study. I am 49 and have tried adult ballet classes, which I only lasted a few weeks. I found that I would rather try and study using books and watching DVD's of ballet classes, rather than participate. Call me lazy! So if anyone could recommend books and DVD's showing me  what the first steps in ballet are, I would be very grateful. I do own Ballet for Dummies. I have watched Swan Lake on DVD, but would anyone volunteer them selves for continues but occasional contacting on everything ballet, starting with Swan Lake?

Yours

Dave

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Hi Dave, welcome to the forum. :-)

 

With regard to books, I'd recommend "The Ballet Companion" by Eliza Gaynor Minden. It's a wonderfully comprehensive guide to all things ballet, covering everything from the basic positions to history of ballet, with many wonderful illustrations.

 

Out of interest, do you watch live performances in the theatre as well as DVDs?

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Goodness you don't have to be able to paint to appreciate art or to know the  the technique of ballet to gain enjoyment from watching it. There are several technique  books and dictionaries of ballet terms and I am sure you will find some DVDs of ballet classes. On You Tube you can also find classes for different age groups so you can see how the  exercises progress. Good luck.

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When I first started watching ballet I very much enjoyed a book by Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp.  I think it was called The Ballet-Goers Guide.  I also had a couple of books by George Balanchine that were an A-Z of ballet but I can't remember what they were called.

 

There are a couple of stand-out autobiographies that I have enjoyed over the years - Margot Fonteyn, Lynn Seymour, Gelsey Kirkland, Suzanne Farrell and Li Cunxin.

 

If you have a look on Amazon, searching for ballet, loads of books are listed.

 

Look around the Doing Dance Forum - you will get a good idea of the rigours of training and the dedication required from reading some of the threads there.

 

Have you ever been to a live performance?  I find there's nothing like the buzz of sitting in a theatre and watching a live ballet.

 

Welcome to the Forum!

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When I first started watching ballet I very much enjoyed a book by Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp.  I think it was called The Ballet-Goers Guide.  I also had a couple of books by George Balanchine that were an A-Z of ballet but I can't remember what they were called.

One will certainly be "Balanchine's Festival of Ballet", which I was fortunate enough to rescue when the library was getting rid of old stock.  Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the Clarke/Crisp book - that's the blue one, I presume?  And I agree about the Gaynor Minden one.

 

Welcome to the forum, Dave (who is obviously not to be confused with all the other Daves and Davids on the forum - we do seem to have a lot of them!)

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Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp's The Ballet-Goers Guide is definitely a good guide for a beginner getting interested in ballet, it tells us the history, the stories of ballet and basics of technique, and how to enjoy watching them.

 

Speaking of DVDs, the "Footnotes: The Classics of Ballet" video series by Frank Augustyn were a great guide to ballet but they are only on VHS. Some full-length ballet DVDs recommended are Mikhail Baryshnikov & Cynthia Harvey's Don Quixote (American Ballet Theatre), Swan Lake by Mariinsky Ballet Uliana Lopatkina & Danila Korsuntsev,  Romeo and Juliet Alessandra Ferri and Wayne Eagling Royal Ballet, Sleeping Beauty by Royal Ballet, Alina Cojocaru and Federico Bonelli.  

 

Or it might be nice to see some ballet related movies such as The Turning Point, Centre Stage and Mao's Last Dancer. 

 

As other's have mentioned, experiencing live ballet performances would be an unforgettable experience.

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