Two years has passed since our last list of recommendations for Christmas gifts for the dance lovers in your life (check it out here); time for another round-up of fascinating and enjoyable reads featured by Oxford Dance Writers, to ease your Christmas shopping travails or request for your own Christmas stocking… Special thanks to Maggie Watson whose many informative and insightful reviews will help you choose the ideal gift…

First up a couple of recent books to enthuse and inform aspiring dancers and balletomanes – perfect Christmas presents:

The Ballet Lover’s Companion, by Zoë Anderson. Yale University Press, 2015

Zoë Anderson has compiled 140 ballets in a comprehensive survey of the repertoire, organised historically and geographically.  A sumptuous and enjoyable gift; read Maggie Watson’s review here. You can buy this book here (more…)

Lidia Ivanova’s death in a boating ‘accident’ in 1924 remains one of ballet history’s unexplained mysteries, but she did not disappear without trace. Elizabeth Kendall’s meticulously researched book does not solve the puzzle of how or why she died, but she does lift this remarkable dancer out of her shadowy existence as a tragic footnote in her contemporaries’ memoirs and place her centre stage.

A friend and rival of Alexandra Danilova at the Imperial Ballet School, Ivanova had early success of one kind or another both on stage and off. Danilova’s memoir notes that Ivanova was expected to inherit the roles of ballerina Elena Smirnova; Tamara Geva’s that Ivanova was rumoured to be on ‘intimate terms with some shady government official’ and that she was said to be ‘close to all the Communist biggies’. (more…)