Ladybird Tuesday - Ballet

This weeks Ladybird book I found a couple of years ago, in wonderful condition, in a charity shop near my mother in law's home.  Ladybird's Ballet by Ian Woodward with illustrations by Martin Aitchison, from the Ladybird History of Arts series (662), was published in 1969.

Ladybird Tuesday Ballet

"Here is book which will delight all who have some interest in ballet.  It will also fascinate the general reader and inspire many to see a ballet in a theatre and experience its excitement and enchantment."

Along with writing my Ladybird Tuesday post the other thing that we do every Tuesday afternoon is take my little fox Una to her ballet class.  When I was a little girl I thought that I would love to do ballet.  I never did.  So, maybe I am vicariously living through my daughter - yes, I know you're not supposed to do that.  But she loves ballet and for all the reasons that attracted me:  You get to flutter around in pretty clothes.  You get to wear your hair in a bun.  The music is great.

As an adult, I've worked for the FCO, the British Council and the BBC, two of my closest friends (who did do ballet as children) have been employed in the world of dance.  As a result I have been fortunate enough to see many amazing dance performances; from The Bolshoi to Alvin Ailey and Dance Theatre Harlem,  from the Cholmondeleys to Matthew Bourne.  I've seen lots of modern dance but relatively little classical ballet.  So with Una's enthusiasm for ballet only growing, and her teaching following the classical model.  I bought this book for her to read, but also for me to see what it was all about.  And it has been very useful.

Ladybird's book Ballet informs the reader of the history and development, the language of ballet and classical mime, and the styles of dancing, training, clothes and performance.  The last few pages describe and illustrate a few well known classical ballets.

The inside cover has illustrations of the five positions of feet and arms in ballet.

The inside cover has illustrations of ballet's positions.

There is also a great illustration of the basic stances and gestures of mime used in most classical ballets.

Ladybird Tuesday - Ballet

Until we went to see a performance of English National Ballet's My First Sleeping Beauty especially for children, where they went through the gestures used in their performance explaining to children (and their parents) their meaning, this was the best explanation I'd ever had.

I still took my daughter to see a Matthew Bourne Nutcracker first.  Una was insistent that the Nutcracker himself was 'wrong'.  He was dressed in a 1920's Panama boater and high waisted white trousers as I recall, not his usual military atire, per the Eric Puybaret illustrations in our traditional version of The Nutcracker book.  But, other than this she loved it, and every ballet we've seen since is judged against this, her first.

Matthew Bourne & New Adventure's The Nutcracker, 2011

Meanwhile, the classical stuff is growing on me, we've also been to see Coppelia by the Vienna Festival Ballet at the Hertford Theatre near our home.  And we've  plans to go see My First Cinderella  another in the English National Ballet's series for children this spring.  I think it is really important in this digital, wireless, connected world for my children to see live performance and art.  Besides, it's my best excuse to get out and see it too.

This post is part of Ladybird Tuesday started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.

And the rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.

An Addendum to last weeks Ladybird Tuesday post:

So, last week I posted about my favourite Ladybird book from my childhood, Well Loved Tales - Snow-White and Rose-Red.  I ended by saying I intended to give the book to Una to read before bed time.  I did.  She did.  And she not only enjoyed it but by the third page she had pointed out that; "Really, Snow-White should be the one with dark hair";  my own thought as a child exactly!

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