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I’ve had a few delightful ballet-filled months, and I’d like to share with you the three books about ballet I think you’ll find very enjoyable.
The Everyday Dancer
I have a soft spot for Deborah Bull. Former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, she is not only a beautiful ballerina but an intelligent and eloquent woman and, as it turns out, a gifted writer. She belongs to the small group of dancers I knew of even before I became genuinely interested in ballet.
If you’ve ever wanted to spend a day in the body of a ballet dancer, then this is the book for you.
In The Everyday Dancer, Bull takes us through class, rehearsal, lunch, and a performance, from the perspective of a principal dancer, a soloist and a member of the corps de ballet. She goes into great detail of each aspect of the day, and you really feel like you are there – sweat, tears, pointe shoes and all – in the studio and on the stage.
The narrative is based on the structure of a dancer’s day, but it also reflects the arc of a dancers career, ending with the final curtain.
The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet
Deborah Bull and Luke Jennings
This book has been a godsend for me. As a newcomer to ballet, I’ve been desperate for a guide – an informative and engaging but not overwhelming source of referene. The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet delivers this in spades.
This Guide is a perfect combination of history, anecdote and analysis, in a concise, easy to follow format.
It’s another gem from the wonderful Deborah Bull. Together with Jennings (a leading ballet critic), she break down 80+ ballets, going into:
– Plot summery
– History and background
– Analysis of principal themes
– View from the Wings (ballerina’s perspective and experience of the ballet)
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
One thing you need to keep in mind is that this book was written by a ghost writer (Charisse Jones). I think this is the reason it sometimes feels a little like a marketing exercise instead of a memoir. It’s also why Misty comes across as overly self-confident and, at times, even arrogant.
I have a feeling that if Misty was writing the story herself she would’ve been a little more self-effacing, which would’ve made her a lot more relatable. I say this because on those occasions when you hear Misty’s own voice – loud and clear – you warm to her instantly. The anxious, fragile but highly driven little girl makes you fall in love with her and root for her from the bottom of your heart.
This is for the little brown girls. But not just them. This story is important because it deals with the adversities faced by so many people regardless of their race: broken home, poverty, doubt and strife.
I originally though the the diversity that Misty had to overcome, as mentioned in the introduction to the book, had to do with her race. Indeed, race comes into play here but later in the story. The real adversity she faced had to do with her circumstances. It’s difficult to imagine a child in Misty’s situation thriving, and yet, somehow, she did.