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Children's LiteratureAfter illustrating the five positions and practice attire, this appealing book goes on to present a wealth of other information about ballet tradition and production. Classical style is represented by three Tchaikovsky ballets—Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker—first presented at the Maryinsky Theater of St. Petersburg in the 1890s. From the Romantic tradition come two French ballets—Giselle from the height of the style, and Coppelia, the only comic ballet and the last gasp of ballet Romanticism. Each production gets ten pages of narration with illustrations of the action, while smaller photos or drawings show performers from around the world demonstrating fascinating tidbits about costumes, technique, and mime. First published in Britain, the book offers versions preserved at the Royal Ballet and a personal introduction by British ballerina Darcey Bussell. An especially welcome feature is the inclusion of photos and prints of some famous dancers of the past—Carlotta Grisi, Pierina Legnani, Alicia Markova, and Alexandra Danilova. Ballet aficionados (or those just discovering dance) will learn enough to imagine the stories while listening to the CD tucked into the cover or to enhance a performance they are lucky enough to attend. There is an excellent glossary that will help with terms that might appear in the program. Although this title maintains DK's reputation for presenting factual material in an eye-catching format, one might wish the end papers and page edges were not such an overly pretty pink. These ballets are part of our heritage, historically and artistically—they do not need pink. 2005 (orig. 1997), Dorling Kindersley, Ages 10 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft