From Ballet to the Barnyard: Picture Books in 2011

Editor’s Note: In 2010, I discovered Kerry Aradhya’s blog, Picture Books & Pirouettes. Two subjects I adore: dance and children’s literature. Happily, Kerry agreed to publish a review of the dance picture book trends of 2010. Since then, I’ve watched her blog develop and couldn’t be more tickled to present her summary of 2011!

It never ceases to amaze me how many picture books about dance are floating —or maybe I should say twirlingaround out there.

When I started my blog, which focuses in large part on these books, people would often ask me if there were really enough dance books available to keep my blog going. And my answer was always yes. There really are!

I love discovering picture books about dance that were published some 10, 20, and even 30 years ago, but handfuls of books are also being published during each new year. When I look through the list of books that were released in the United States in 2011, three unique categories of books stand out to me. Here’s a little more about them…

Series for Little Ballerinas

Angelina Ballerina may still be the most popular picture book character for many young dancers, but several characters emerged this year and in the recent past who could eventually give Angelina a run for her money.

Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake
Author: James Mayhew
Illustrator: James Mayhew
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series

First published in England, the charming series of Ella Bella Ballerina books introduces young readers to some of the world’s most famous ballets. In Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake, little Ella Bella is transported into the magical world of Swan Lake, where she interacts with the Swan Princess and helps her reunite with the prince. Ella Bella Ballerina also has her own blog, where you can follow all of her adventures!

Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Prince
Author: Grace Maccarone
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

In 2010, the book Miss Lina’s Ballerinas introduced the ballet mistress Miss Lina and the nine young ballerinas under her tutelage. In the sequel, Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Prince, a male ballet student joins the mix. Rhyming text and gorgeous French-inspired illustrations make both books ones to treasure.

Tallulah’s Tutu
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Publisher: Clarion Books

The only reason Tallulah started taking ballet class was because she wanted to wear a tutu, but over time she realizes there is a lot more to love about ballet. The publisher of Tallulah’s Tutu has also created this great activity kit to go along with the book. And the book’s sequel, Tallulah’s Solo, is scheduled to hit bookshelves in 2012.

Spanish and Latin American Dance [Read more…]

Teacher’s Top Three: Books For Ballet Teachers

3 is a magic numberI’ve had the pleasure of regularly exchanging Tweets with a number of dance teachers – intelligent, insightful, and enthusiastic instructors out there doing what they do best. Believe it or not, you can get a real sense for a person via 140 character conversations!

Robin Mahboeb is one of these teachers. The word that’s always come to mind regarding Robin (@mahrobi) is classy. She proves it with these choices…

Robin’s Top Three Books For Ballet Teachers

1. The Art of Teaching Ballet – Ten Twentieth-Century Masters

by Gretchen Ward Warren

Robin says, “This is my easy favorite! The author spends time with ten of the most popular professional ballet teachers from around the world, watching classes and doing interviews. There is a chapter devoted to each teacher which starts with a short bio, followed by the authors’ experiences in observing the teachers in the studio and out. At the end of each chapter there is a list of quotes, a list of the order of barre and center combinations and a family tree style chart of pedagogical lineage.”

“I love this book,” continues Robin, “because it doesn’t just give combinations (though there are combinations from each teacher listed at the end of the book). It really brings insight on teaching artistry and simple joy of movement as well as tips on teaching turns and jumps, etc. Additionally, it is a fascinating read; the first time i read it i could hardly put it down.”

The Art of Teaching Ballet is available for purchase through the Dance Advantage aStore

2. Ballet Studio – An Inside View

Ballet Studio: An Inside View [image]by Anne Wooliams (coincidentally one of the teachers interviewed in the previous book!)

“This is a book i received as a gift in my late teens and i find it as wonderful now as i did nearly 30 years ago. It is a book that can be appreciated by teachers, students and professional dancers alike,” explains Robin. “There are chapters dedicated to practice clothes and health as well as barre and center work, pointe, mime, musicality, teaching and more. The author writes with warmth and humor, offering advice as well as the occasional ballet combination. The excellent text is accompanied by beautiful, candid, grainy black and white photographs.”

This book is out of print. Check out Goodreads to compare sellers.

3. Classical Ballet Technique

by Gretchen Ward Warren (again!)

“This book i find to be an excellent tool for teaching correct ballet technique as it breaks down all the steps photographically. There is little text but very clear photos of the positions one should go through in executing each step. It also frequently shows the difference between, say, the Russian version of a step vs. Cecchetti, for example. In addition, there are pictures showing incorrect vs. correct placement or execution. I like to keep this book in the classroom and may occasionally show my students what a new step is supposed to look like.”

Classical Ballet Technique is available in the Dance Advantage aStore

More About Robin

RobinRobin grew up in Colorado. Her early training was Cecchetti technique under Larry Boyette. She majored in dance at the Cornish Institute of Arts in Seattle, Washington under Franks Bays and Pat Hon and also trained in New York with Maggie Black. Robin has performed with several small companies but left the dance world temporarily to raise a family. She has 4 children between the ages of 8 and 20 and has been teaching ballet for about 15 years – “off and on a bit between kids!” For the last several years Robin has been teaching in Bergenfield, New Jersey at Nunnbetter Dance Theatre and choreographing for NBDT’s student company.

Do you have some favorite books for ballet teachers you’d like to recommend?

Let us know in the comments!

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