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DVD Review: My First Ballet Collection

Posted Nov 30 2009 10:01pm

Do you have a ballet student or young child interested in all things dance on your gift list this year?

William Tuckett as the Widow Simone with membe...
Image via Wikipedia

A brand new video, released in September, would be a wonderful addition to their dance library. My First Ballet Collection is exactly what its title indicates, a treasury of excerpted performances which are particularly suited for introducing children to the world of ballet. Youngsters will immediately recognize some of the better-known tales; Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Cinderella are all included in the compilation. However, ballets such as Coppelia, Giselle, Sylvia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and La Fille mal gardée, present characters and moods that will appeal to all ages.

My First Ballet Collection offers high-quality film and sound production, however the DVD is not frilly. Played straight through, each of the 26 ballet excerpts are introduced with a caption indicating the ballet’s title, music composer, and excerpt heading. The DVD also conveniently offers the option to view by chapter for easy navigation among the selections. The excerpts are highly accessible and are well-chosen to stand alone. The video even captured the attention of my two-year-old. He was motivated to move to the energetic music and particularly enjoyed imitating the dancers as they jumped and balanced.

Snow and Tiptoes

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

A collection such as this would ideally inspire further investigation of the ballets, their stories, their choreographers or dancers, and the physical movements of which they are made. Parents hoping to plop their child in front of the TV or expecting the DVD to connect all the dots, may be disappointed in its lack of interactivity. My First Ballet Collection goes as far as bringing a variety of real ballet performances into the home or studio in one tidy package, providing the opportunity for parents or teachers to assist children in their continued exploration of ballet. This may be scary for some parents who feel they don’t know much of ballet or the dance world. However, exploring together is fun and encourages enthusiasm for learning.

Bottom Line: My First Ballet Collection is a great choice for those wishing to nurture enthusiasm for ballet among children of all ages. Younger children will enjoy being introduced to colorful characters and beautiful dancing. Older children will benefit from the opportunity to sample a mélange of ballet specimens.

firstballet-lg For more info visit www.myfirstballetcollection.com. The website features additional info about the Royal Academy of Dance training program, where to find instructors, and a listing of North American dance companies. Purchase the video here.

Teachers, My First Ballet Collection works as a classroom tool as well. Skip easily among the snippets to illustrate a step, try on a variation, or to visually aid a discussion of ballet history.

In Detail

  • nutcracker My First Ballet Collection is the result of a collaboration between Naxos of America, Opus Arte, and the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).
  • The DVD features excerpts from 10 different productions with performances by ballet stars such as Darcey Bussell, Carlos Acosta, Patricia Barker, Maria Kochetkova, and more.
  • Showcased are four different ballet companies from both sides of the Atlantic: The Royal Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
  • San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (performed by PNB), and The Nutcracker (The Royal Ballet), feature performances by children and student dancers.
  • Diverse locales and archetypes are explored on the DVD: woodland creatures, mythological landscapes and beings, pastoral settings such as an 18th century farm (complete with dancing chickens), a toy shop with life-sized dolls, enchanted kingdoms, and 1930’s Hollywood (via Nureyev’s updated Cinderella ).
  • The 26 excerpts range from dramatic to romantic to comedic.

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