by Sandra Noll Hammond
National Dance Week is April 22 – May 1
Ballet Basics was the book that was used for my college ballet class. It is similar to Jump into Jazz, the book I just reviewed, in terms of how it is organized. I have the fifth edition (2004), but there is probably something more recent by now.
Chapter 1: The Ballet Class – This chapter goes into all the different things a beginner would need to know, such as attire, music, posture, shoes, and the structure of the class.
Chapter 2: Ballet Technique: Barre Work – Barre exercises for the beginner are explained, with illustrations.
Chapter 3: Ballet Technique: Center Work – Ballet exercises away from the barre, (in the center of the room) are explained, including port de bras (carriage of the arms), arabesque (balancing poses where the leg is extended behind), connecting movements, and pirouettes and other turns.
Chapter 4: Ballet Technique: Allegro – Allegro is an Italian word that means fast and lively. In ballet, it applies to both quick little jumps (petite allegro) or larger jumps (grand allegro) that may look fairly simple but can be quite challenging to do well.
Chapter 5: The Ballet Body – Information on different types of exercise that complement ballet, injury prevention, and nutrition.
Chapter 6: The Ballet Profession – Information on performance, and opportunities for a career in dance.
Chapter 7: Ballet History – This is a very detailed chapter that traces the roots of ballet from the middle ages to the present time. I used this chapter as a basis for a research paper I wrote for my college dance appreciation class.
There are illustrations throughout of both male and female dancers, and the book is specifically designed for adult students