If I had to recommend just one book to a vocational dance student, it would be Ballet: The Essential Guide to Technique and Creative Practice.  In ten chapters, each written by an expert, the book covers the full range of material of which anyone embarking on a career in ballet needs understanding and awareness. 

The structure takes the reader logically from Ginny Brown’s and Anna Meadmore’s opening chapters on  ballet’s founding principles, cultural history and heritage, though the practical aspects of learning to dance, self-care, creativity and musicality, and on to guidance on the professional conduct, conventions and essential activities that all help bring a performance from the studio to the stage.

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If there is a new ballet fan in your family, this could be the ideal Christmas present.  Zoë Anderson’s book assumes no specialist knowledge, and includes a glossary of the ballet terms she uses, so that any reader can visualise her descriptions.

Anderson is very knowledgeable, and she has chosen to write a highly readable work that also touches on some of the issues that ballet as an art form faces today. She has selected 140 ballets, for each of which she gives what are in effect programme notes: synopses of plots, information about the original performance, and sometimes descriptions of the dancing or reports of the critical response. (more…)