Belinda Hollyer and illustrator Sophy Williams promise to sweep readers off their feet with Stories from the Ballet. Closely following the publication of The Random House Book of Stories from the Ballet (noted Aug. 28), this romantic collection of eight such favorites as Swan Lake and Giselle distinguishes itself with an introduction and performance notes by former prima ballerina Irina Baronova. For an added sprinkling of stardust, glamorous photographs of the dancer are also included (Viking, $15.99, ages 8-12 ISBN 0-670-86605-9 Sept.).
- Marilyn Courtot
The stories of eight popular ballets are skillfully retold. Each ballet is presented with a brief history-when it was first produced, dancers and the progression of productions. The stories are illustrated with soft pastel art that captures the mood of the story. The real plus for students of ballet are the performance notes by Irina Baronova, a star of the Ballets Russes and the American Ballet Theater. Her comments are warm and personal and provide insight into her interpretation of the roles she danced as well as comments on the other characters and life as a ballerina.
- Beverly Kobrin
Ballerina Irina Baronova's first performance of Swan Lake's dual role Odette-Odile was as a substitute for the sick senior ballerina. The male lead had considered it beneath his dignity to partner the 14-year-old Baronova, however. How the show went on, and with whom, is one of the intriguing personal experiences the ballerina shares in notes that frame each of Belinda Hollyer's Stories from the Classical Ballet. In addition to anecdotes, which include a performance history of the ballet, Ms. Baronova prefaces the eight tales with a brief account of her life as a dancer. Sepia and black-and-white photographs illustrate the autobiography; Sophy Williams' colorful paintings illustrate the stories.
Illustrated with pastels, this handsome book retells the stories of eight ballets that children might see performed, including "Coppelia", "Giselle", "The Firebird", "The Nutcracker", and "Swan Lake". The writing is fluid, and the impressionistic artwork brings out the special quality of each piece. Young dancers will particularly enjoy the general introduction by former ballerina Irina Baranova. Following the story of each ballet are Baranova's personal "performance notes," usually her memories of the principal roles she danced with the "Ballets Russes". A useful, attractive addition to arts collections.