Book Report

You guys are probably wondering, “How did the Adult Beginner get so awesome?”
Right? It’s ok, lots of people wonder that.
Well my friend, the secret is Books!
Lots of em!
It’s like the Violent Femmes say, “read read read read read read read everything you can read. And learn learn learn learn learn learn learn everything you can learn.”
Let’s all sing!
Ok, anyway, these are my books, starting with the grey one at the bottom of the pile.

Classical Ballet Technique, by Gretchen Ward, copyright 1989 University of South Florida Press.
Picked this one up used for $15, read more about it in the “Measuring Up” post

The Classical Ballet, basic technique and terminology by Lincoln Kirstein, first copyright 1952, mine from 1998, University Press of Florida.
Used book store, $10. This one is all extremely technical figure drawings. Not a lot of charisma in the drawings but they are super easy to understand. This one was really helpful early on, I would look through it immediately after class to try and set the things I just learned before all the different positions got jumbled in my head. It shows the preparation for each step, also very helpful.

The stained cloth cover is Ballet Portraits by Maurice Seymour, copyright 1952, Pellegrini and Cudahy.
This one I found at a yard sale for like maybe a whole dollar, and it is georgeous. All big beautiful black and white portraits of dancers in full costume and make-up. Lé swoon.

Beginning Ballet, from the classroom to the stage by Joan Lawson. Looks like the original copyright is 1958, but mine is 1996 A&C Black (Publishers) Limited.
This was $1 at a Savers thrift store. Flipping through this book is a surprising experience, in that despite the dorky clip-art-looking cover, it’s full of very fun very 1950’s style illustrations, and in addition to technique it has patterns for cutting and sewing your own class and performance costumes. As if you ever would! It’s awesome!

Anatomy and Ballet by Celia Sparger, copyright 1949 A&C Black, Limited.
This one was $10 at a used bookstore. See those foot-in-pointe x-rays on the cover? The are a ton more x-rays inside of cool things like the hip bones during developé, and photos of back views of old timey ladies before and after corrective ballet training. On a side note, ever notice how prevalent x-ray images of feet in pointe shoes are? They’re everywhere! Try googling, you’ll see. They don’t shed any light on how pointe works, but they’re there.

Ballerina, a novel by Edward Stewart. Copyright 1978, 1979 Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Found this at a Goodwill thrift store, 50cents. Totally a guilty pleasure. I’ve read it twice.

Inside Ballet Technique, separating anatomical fact from fiction in the ballet class, by Valerie Grieg. Copyright 1994 Princeton Book Company, Publishers.
Ordered this one just recently online for about $14, it looks promising, lots of cool diagrams.

Basic Principles of Classical Ballet, Russian Ballet Technique by Agrippina Vaganova. This was originally copyright 1946 Kamin Dance Publishers, mine is a Dover edition, Dover Publications Inc.
Everyone has this book, right? I mean, you can even see it in Flash Dance when the camera pans over the bookshelf in the main characters awesome warehouse apartment. I ordered this one online ($8) in hopes of better understanding the terms Smirnoff uses in class, which are sometimes different from the ones Lincoln Kirstein uses in The Classical Ballet. I love that the illustrations feature a very stoic lady in a full knee-length skirt and funny hairdo. At times the series of illustrations for steps look hilariously disconnected, like oh hey, suddenly she’s in the air! Backwards! And what are those zig-zags, are those what her feet are supposed to do? Wow!

And on top the little red book, First Steps in Ballet, Basic Exercises At The Barre, and the blue one, Second Steps in Ballet, Basic Center Exercises, both by Thalia Mara. Originally copyright 1955 and 1956, mine are both 1987 Princeton Book Company, Publishers.
These were maybe $5 total at a used bookstore. These little books are very sweet, and early on I referred to them more than an adult is maybe supposed to. They feature illustrations of a little ponytailed girl in a short-sleeved black leotard who very earnestly demos the steps. Steps are broken down by counts of music which was super, super helpful that first month or so when I wasn’t even sure how many counts a plié gets. Best of all, there are some really hilarious drawings, all entitled “don’t do this” featuring really goofy looking little girls making all the mistakes a beginner makes, whether child or adult.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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9 Responses to Book Report

  1. HaleyB says:

    I’m totally bookmarking this page for payday! I danced (ballet, tap, jazz, modern) for almost 15 years as a child/teen and just started ballet again 6 weeks ago (after almost 15 years off). I stumbled along your awesome blog on my search for adult (re)beginner information. Your posts are insightful and frequently set me in to fits of the giggles that must be explained to the “anti-dance” hubby (I say that lovingly, as he is a theatre person and in the theatre, you don’t move unless you have a reason too).

    BTW – I stopped right as I was starting pointe, so I’m super jealous of you right now but am eager to hear more about!

    • Hmmm, interesting: guess not moving unless you have a reason is valid in dance too, like, movements are best when motivated.
      I’m still referring back to these books when we do new things in class! Another good one is The Gaynor Mindon Ballet Companion, I don’t own it but enjoyed checking it out of the library.

  2. Astra says:

    Hmm, read, eh? I’ve read Drina Ballerina books. Oh man I used to love them! Oh the memories. Does that count?

  3. Lisa says:

    I was recently visiting my grandma, and a book caught my eye and I was like “what the what? is that? yes it is!” Ballet Portraits by Maurice Seymour! Had the paper dust jacket on it and everything! My mom says the book has been around for as long as she can remember. Of course I told her to never let grandma get rid of it, because I want it. I just had to come back and find this post and tell you about it!

  4. Lisa says:

    So I am going back and reading your posts from the beginning and it’s so funny all the things you are doing I too am doing. 36 year old never have taken a ballet class til a month ago. Just got a leo and tights, have read tons of books already lol. Can’t wait to keep reading!

  5. Pingback: Ballerina by Edward Stewart. Now with more ebook. | Adult Beginner

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