What teacher doesn’t like to be bursting with new ideas and practical tools at the start of a new season?
Seeing no hands raised, I’d like to introduce you to two great resources offered to me for review by Dance Teacher Press.
The Ballet Combination Book
The Ballet Combination Book is what started it all for Janet Jerger, a veteran dance teacher from the Midwest who decided to put together her notes and combinations developed over the years into a resource for others.
Just shy of 60, roughly 8 x 11in. pages, the paperback is thin enough to slide into your class binder or notebook for reference but contains more than 250 combinations for ballet class.
These are organized simply in a general class order, from Plié to Reverence. Plus, a few extra turn-out exercises for the floor and standing, occasional teaching tips, a condensed glossary, CD recommendations, and some guidelines for use of the book.
The Ballet Combination Book isn’t weighed down with class level recommendations for barre and center combinations. It lets the teacher choose from a list that is generally appropriate for any intermediate dancer. The introductory exercises would be just right for beginning ballet students (school-aged or older, not preschool), while the majority could be used or adapted for dancers older or more advanced.
These exercises are not revolutionary but tried and true. Some may even be long-forgotten or buried from your years as a student. Presented in a user-friendly format, they are dusted off and ready for use with your own students.
The Ballet Combination Book is ideal for new teachers or for those that want to save time as they create their lesson plans. It would also be really helpful on days when you just need a little inspiration or to want to try something that breaks your usual patterns.
Ballet Step by Step
There are dozens of introductory books for the young student on the market. What I can say about Ballet Step by Step is that it’s probably most like the book you, as a teacher, would create for your young students if you had the time and illustrative ability.
Like The Ballet Combination Book, simplicity is the core strength of this guide for young or beginning dancers. Starting with the 5 feet positions, the book presents ballet terminology in a logical and progressive manner. Each French term is shown at the top of the page and is followed by line drawings of colorful but uncomplicated figures demonstrating the step. You’ll then find the dictionary-style pronunciation, a literal translation of the term, and its description. Often banners appear with reminders or asides regarding the ballet movement or position.
Though Ballet Step by Step has a generally feminine design with pinks, purples, hearts, swirls, and flowers adorning the cover and pages, the drawings are inclusive in their depiction of dancers with varying skin tone, hair color, and gender. A dancing feline even makes a surprise appearance for Pas de Chat.
Another pleasant surprise is the appropriate “aging” of the dance figures as the book progresses to more advanced steps. These adult-like figures don’t show anatomically perfect bodies but still accurately depict proper rotation of the legs, épaulement, and other details. In fact, though the young dance figures are prepubescently plumped and cute, they too manage to be clear and precise in their representation of the steps.
The compact paperback leads with only a few pages of introduction, including a top-ten list of ballet class etiquette reminders and a few notes on hands, turn-out, and typical class format. The rest presents ballet, literally step by step through barre, center, jumps and turns, and body facings, as a companion resource for the young ballet dancer (or his/her parent) taking lessons.
Ballet Step by Step would make a great addition to your studio library, quick reference to pass around or use in class, a gift for any aspiring or new dancer, or recommended reading for all of your beginning students.
Where to Find Them
The Ballet Combination Book and Ballet Step by Step can be purchased at DanceTeacherPress.com. Among these two best-sellers, you’ll find other practical tools and gifts for dancers or teachers, including informative and decorative products like coloring sheets, educational posters and wall borders, flashcards, and more
Several Dance Teacher Press items can be found on Amazon.com as well.
Dance Advantage currently has no financial relationship with Dance Teacher Press. We received complimentary copies of these two titles for review. However, we do make a small commission from Amazon.com for purchases made through our referral. See Disclosure for more info.