After 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 balletsSwan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcrackerfirst presented at the Maryinsky Theater of St. Petersburg in the 1890s. From the Romantic tradition come two French balletsGiselle 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 pastCarlotta 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 artisticallythey do not need pink. 2005 (orig. 1997), Dorling Kindersley, Ages 10 up.
Barbara L. Talcroft
Photographs, drawings, a CD of ballet music, and a special forward by Darcy Bussell, the principal dancer with the London Ballet, enhance the beauty of this book about ballet. Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and the Nutcracker are three of the five stories of enchantment told in this book. Darcy Bussell explains the technical demands that ballet places on the dancer, but she also shares her enjoyment of the dance, as she shares some of her feelings about the interpretations of several of the roles. The story of each ballet is accompanied with definitions of the terminology. An "attitude," for example, is the pose in which the dancer is standing on one leg, with the other angled directly behind her. The meaning of specific introductory pieces of music, the symbolism of flowers, and the special gestures of mime in ballet are explained through examples. Historical vignettes present famous ballet dancers, and bits and pieces of factual information enliven this beautiful book. The CD offers 18 musical highlights from the various ballets-making this package a delight for the ear as well as the eye. Elegant illustrations extend the descriptions. The book can be purchased without the CD.