Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ballet for Beginners

Ballet for Beginners

Mary Kate Mellow, Stephanie Troeller
For ages 7 to 10
Charlesbridge, 2011   ISBN: 978-1936140459

All over the world there are young people who dream about becoming dancers. They are excited by the rhythms of jazz, or attracted to the moves of hip hop. They want to clap and stamp national dances, or leap into the air like Celtic dance performers. Then there are the boys and girl who want to learn how to do ballet. They want to learn how to perform the beautiful moves, wear the gorgeous costumes, and be a part of a ballet production.

Many young people begin their ballet journey by going to a Creative Movement class when they are five or six years old. In these classes, children learn how to move their bodies in time with the music, and they also learn that music can tell a story that they can then turn into a dance. Telling a story using dance and music is a form of pantomime, and creative movement teachers often encourage their students to pretend that they are something so that they can explore facial expressions, hand movements, and more.

When they are a little older, children are ready to start real ballet lessons. In this book we join the students of the School of American Ballet in New York City in their class. From them we learn about the dress code for class, how important it is to have a good posture, and the basic positions used by dancers at this level.

In advanced level classes the positions are harder to execute, and ballerinas start to use pointe ballet shoes. They wear these shoes so that they can dance en pointe, or on their toes. We see how young men and women dance together, and we learn that they have to practice many hours to master the choreography in their dances. Finally we see how one of the young ballerinas prepares for a ballet performance.

This excellent title will give young ballet fans a very real sense of what it is like to learn ballet, and how much work it takes to become a performing ballet dancer. There are beautiful color photographs on every double page spread, and the chatty and personal writing style used throughout the book makes the text engaging and easy to read.