The Ballet Companion

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9780743264075: The Ballet Companion

A New Classic for Today's Dancer
The Ballet Companion is a fresh, comprehensive, and thoroughly up-to-date reference book for the dancer. With 150 stunning photographs of ballet stars Maria Riccetto and Benjamin Millepied demonstrating perfect execution of positions and steps, this elegant volume brims with everything today's dance student needs, including:

  • Practical advice for getting started, such as selecting a school, making the most of class, and studio etiquette
  • Explanations of ballet fundamentals and major training systems
  • An illustrated guide through ballet class -- warm-up, barre, and center floor
  • Guidelines for safe, healthy dancing through a sensible diet, injury prevention, and cross-training with yoga and Pilates
  • Descriptions of must-see ballets and glossaries of dance, music, and theater terms

Along the way you'll find technique secrets from stars of American Ballet Theatre, lavishly illustrated sidebars on ballet history, and tips on everything from styling a ballet bun to stage makeup to performing the perfect pirouette.
Whether a budding ballerina, serious student, or adult returning to ballet, dancers will find a lively mix of ballet's time-honored traditions and essential new information.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Everyone involved with or interested in ballet should read this book. Comprehensively researched and packed with valuable information, The Ballet Companion is a treasure-trove for ballet enthusiasts." -- Kirk Peterson, Ballet Master/Choreographer, American Ballet Theatre

"This is the very book I would have loved to have discovered when I first started to study ballet." -- Allegra Kent, former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet and author of Once a Dancer

"Unique and comprehensive, this is a wonderful companion and guide for anybody who loves dance." -- Edward Villella, Former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet and Founding Artistic Director, Miami City Ballet

"The Ballet Companion is exactly that, a companion for dancers wishing to expand their knowledge of the art form and its ever changing yet lasting community. Finally, a book that reveals its rich history and strong tradition and how incredibly fortunate we are to belong to it." -- Lourdes Lopez, former Principal Dancer New York City Ballet

"Eliza Gaynor Minden captures our imagination, taking us into the magical world of ballet." -- David Howard, internationally acclaimed aster teacher and coach

"This book is a broad canvas of the history, elements, and components of dance. It is must reading for those who love dance and wish to explore its functions and derivation." -- Melissa Hayden, former principal dancer New York City Ballet, faculty, North Carolina School of the Arts

"This comprehensive guide to the world of ballet is a must-have for all dance enthusiasts." -- Gillian Murphy, Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre

"A smorgasboard of information about the world of ballet!" -- Alexandra Ansanellli, Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet

"This offers a wealth of information as well as being extremely interesting." -- Mignon Furman, director, American Academy of Ballet

"A unique book that blends a behind-the-scenes look at ballet with a bit of history, and how-to information. The Ballet Companion is a must have for every dance student and enthusiast." -- Maria Youskevitch, principal teacher, American Repertory Ballet's Princeton Ballet School

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

When Anna Pavlova was a young dancer in Russia, she faced stiff competition from a bevy of imported hotshot Italian ballerinas. With their tricked-out shoes and their formidable technique they performed marvels on full pointe: endless balances, dazzling pirouettes, even an unheard-of thirty-two fouettès. Pavlova toiled to make herself into a virtuosa in their mold.

Fortunately her teacher Pavel Gerdt advised her to leave off the tricks and turns and focus on developing her own innate qualities: delicacy, lyricism, expressivity. In the end Pavlova triumphed as a Romantic dancer at a time when hard-boiled classicism was all the rage, and she went on to foment balletomania the world over. Of course, she never stopped working on her technique; she even got the greatest Italian ballet master of all, Enrico Cecchetti, to give private lessons to her and no one else. And she did adopt the newfangled Italian shoes (albeit doctored in her secret way), but not just for flash or bravura. Pavlova did the opposite: she used pointework to convey achingly beautiful vulnerability.

Pavlova became a legend by tapping into her genius for self-expression rather than by technique alone. She cultivated her own eloquent "voice." And you can do the same even if you never set foot on a stage. Certainly executing steps well provides tremendous satisfaction. But ballet's joy lies not just in doing steps; it's in dancing them -- in the pleasure of expression through movement, of union with music, of singing with your body. I hope this book helps you not only in developing proficiency but also in discovering your voice.

The Ballet Companion offers a discussion of technique that is not just how to, but why. You already know what tendus are because you do them in class. But you may not realize why you do so many, or that the meaning of the word in French ("stretched") defines the quality of the movement, or that a famous choreographic passage, the opening of Balanchine's Theme and Variations, is based on them -- or how by perfecting your tendu you can improve your technique overall. Throughout the book, I connect the work you do in class to the bigger picture.

That picture, of course, includes performance. Looking as much as doing sparked my own love of ballet. My Wrst impressions were formed watching Fonteyn and Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Fracci, Makarova in Swan Lake, Kirkland in Giselle, and the opening night (a school night at that) of Balanchine's 1972 Stravinsky Festival with its landmark premieres. Granted, that's a hard act to follow, but every generation has its own superb dancers. Let today's inspire you.

In the back of this book you will find a collection of choreographic "greatest hits" along with some of my favorites that are less well known. Go to the ballet as often as you can. If you can see a work repeatedly, that's even better. A second or third viewing reveals the craftsmanship in the choreography and lets you compare different interpretations. In deciding what you admire and what you don't, what you allow to influence you and what you reject, you will shape your own character as a dancer.

Sometimes the first step toward finding your voice is to realize that it's okay to have one. This book is generously sprinkled with nuggets of ballet history that show how often a distinctive choreographic or performing personality has influenced and enriched ballet. Things we take for granted today -- the one-act ballet, the tutu, the overhead lift, the blocked pointe shoe, even women dancing professionally -- all were innovations in their time and sometimes bitterly resisted. Dance history is full of skirmishes between rebels and traditionalists, but ultimately dance embraces new voices and rewards those who take risks.

As a student I was captivated by ballet history and contrived to write every school term paper I could on a ballet subject. An assignment on great Americans became an essay on Ted Shawn, an art history project a study of Diaghilev's collaborations. My poor logic professor asked for an example of a well-constructed argument and got a scathing critique of the dance program at Yale. I took great pleasure in using my obsession with dance as a means of enlivening schoolwork; you might, too.

Ballet history is delicious -- it's rich and glamorous and fun. It's also important for your dancing in a serious way. You develop an informed artistry when you understand why the Sylph holds her arms differently from the Sugar Plum Fairy, or why a Bournonville allegro must bounce along the way it does. Petipa and Ivanov's Swan Lake and Fokine's Dying Swan were choreographed only ten years apart and both feature swan-women in white, feathered tutus. But to dance Fokine like Petipa would be to miss the point. Fokine loathed -- among other things -- classicism's stale verticality and lack of expressivity, so his reforms included a liberation of the arms and upper body. This isn't a stylistic nicety; it's a wholly different approach. We know about it from history: from his own manifesto and from the accounts of the dancers he trained.

I hope the historical tidbits in this book intrigue you enough so that you read more. Dancers' autobiographies are often delightful and engrossing. It's fascinating to read about your own familiar exercises and routines as they were in other times: in Imperial Russia or with the Ballets Russes or under Communism or for Balanchine. Some of the dancers' stories will surely resonate with you and contribute to the creation of your own dancing personality.

Ballet training rightly focuses on technique and artistry, but dancers are not indestructible, and they ignore their health at their peril. Ballet has become more overtly athletic. Although dancers still pretend not to sweat on stage, and still conceal their exertions under serene smiles, their bodies are being pushed and pulled as never before. Fortunately, there is now far more awareness and knowledge of dancers' health.

A whole new field of medicine has sprung up, and its practitioners have much to offer on the subject of injury prevention and safe training. Eating disorders, once a shameful secret, are now brought into the sunlight for compassionate confrontation and cure. Cross training is widely recognized as a complement to class that can speed the process of building strength and flexibility. I have devoted an extensive section of this book to the healthy dancer.

Like a strong and flexible dancer, ballet itself is hardy. It phoenixed out of the aristocratic pomp of the Baroque age. Powdered wigs and snuff boxes are long gone, but ballet has endured and maintained its traditions -- vestiges of its royal origins -- while resiliently absorbing new ideas. From a boys-only club to the cult of the ballerina, from six-foot hoop skirts to nudity, from courtiers elaborately curtsying to the king to performances that incite antigovernment protest, throughout its rich history ballet has repeatedly remodeled itself and survived.

So go ahead: cultivate your technique, your voice, and your ideas. No great choreographer ever picked a boring dancer for a muse. Ballet needs distinctive personalities to inspire new choreographic genius, to make the classics fresh, and to keep the audience interested. Your self-expression may lead you beyond ballet to other forms of dance, or to the theater. You may become a choreographer, dance teacher, dance historian, dance doctor, dance critic, dance notator, dance photographer, dance administrator or, as I did, a pointe shoe designer. You may decide to be the next Martha Graham and invent a whole new dance language. In all these endeavors your ballet technique, along with your knowledge of ballet's traditions, is the foundation on which you build. And even in nondance pursuits, qualities you develop in the studio -- physical intelligence and confidence in your own voice -- will serve you very well outside it. I hope this book helps you in joyfully creating your foundation. I hope it encourages you to soar.

Part One: To Be a Dancer

Getting Started

Selecting a Ballet School

Your mother says you danced in the crib. You love moving to music. Perhaps you want to perform. Perhaps performing is not for you, but the exhilaration of a well-executed tour jetè in class is. Perhaps you've been advised to try it for medical reasons, to make you strong or improve your posture. Or maybe, like Alexandra Ansanelli, principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, you were knocked out cold on the soccer Weld and your parents wanted you in something safer. Whatever draws you to ballet, finding the right school will make all the diVerence to your experience.

In the United States anyone can hang out a shingle and call him - or herself a ballet teacher. There is no organization or governing body to license teachers and maintain standards. But there are many indicators of a school's merits. Here are some things to look for when considering where to study, many of which are described in more detail later in this book:

  1. Teacher's Credentials
  2. The instructor with the most glamorous and prestigious performing credentials may not be the best teacher. The ability to dance brilliantly is different from the skills that make a great teacher: the ability to analyze, to break down steps, to explain, to inspire. Some people possess both performing and teaching abilities; some don't.

    In France no one is allowed to teach without a state diploma. In the United States, the Cecchetti Society, the Cecchetti Council of America, and the London-based Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) are highly respected institutions whose founders cared deeply about how ballet is taught. Teachers who have been trained through these organizations have learned a well-established syllabus -- a known commodity with a proven track record of providing safe, solid, classical training. These are by no means the only good choices. There are other major training systems (see...

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Descripción Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2006. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. THE BALLET COMPANION is the first complete, illustrated reference book for the dancer. With more than 150 stunning photographs of ballet greats Maria Riccetto and Benjamin Millepied demonstrating perfect execution of positions and steps, THE BALLET COMPANION brims with everything today s dance student needs including: * Practical advice for getting started, such as finding the right teacher, fitting a pointe shoe, tying a ballet bun * Training safely through a sensible diet, injury prevention, and cross training with yoga and Pilates * Inside information on backstage and studio etiquette and auditioning * Technique secrets from stars of American Ballet Theatre * Glossaries and lavishly illustrated sidebars on ballet history and Must See ballets Whether a budding ballerina, serious student, or adult returning to ballet, dancers will find a graceful mix of ballet traditions and essential, new information. Nº de ref. de la librería AA89780743264075

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