So not only did I start taking ballet lessons earlier this year, but I am also reading a lot about ballet too. Yes, this has become my new geekdom. I recently finished Eliza Gaynor Minden‘s book, The Ballet Companion: A Dancer’s Guide to the Technique, Traditions, and Joys of Ballet (2005). As the title suggests, this is an all-around introduction, geared to the beginning dancer. It covers a whole range of topics from schools to positions and basic steps to health and nutrition and so forth. There’s also a chapter on ballet literacy with a helpful bibliography and list of other resources. These in any book are great jumping-off points for further reading and watching.
Throughout the book are sprinkled vignettes on dance history, which I’m especially interested in; my only quibble is that they’re so interspersed that much of my reading of the book involved skipping pages and coming back to read the history blurbs. I might’ve preferred they be given their own chapter. (Then again right now I’m reading a book solely about ballet history, so I’m getting my fill.)
While The Ballet Companion isn’t meant to replace a comprehensive ballet dictionary or manual since its chapter on class covers just several basic steps, I commend it for its clear and large color photos (and with one of the models being Benjamin Millepied, I can’t complain) and its breadth of information. I had borrowed this book from the public library, and after I return it I may end up buying a copy for my own ballet reference shelf.