Books and DVDs: Summer Sampler
June 1, 2010

Ballet Pedagogy: The Art of Teaching

by Rory Foster

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: A must-have manual for ballet teachers.


With this book, author Rory Foster, professor of dance emeritus at DePaul University, provides a valuable instruction tool for ballet teachers of all experience levels and training methods, whether Bournonville, Royal Academy of Dance, Vaganova or Cecchetti. The former American Ballet Theatre dancer urges teachers to focus on not only what to teach but also how they utilize their pedagogical skills. In nine chapters, including a foreword by master teacher David Howard, Foster explains the mechanics of teaching ballet. He briefly covers the genre’s extensive history—encouraging teachers to incorporate historical facts into lessons—and all aspects of conducting class, including musicality, the student/teacher relationship, injury prevention, proper demonstration, corrections and counting. Foster even gives readers advice on establishing a dance school. But what teachers will find most useful are the precise diagrams and photographs that illustrate how to correctly work with a dancer’s body.



On Technique

by Dean Speer

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: Insight into the teaching philosophies of 18 respected artists.


Dean Speer, director of Chehalis (Washington) Ballet Center, presents a well-rounded cast of respected teachers, including Finis Jhung, Gwenn Barker and Yvonne Cartier. Each contributor provides a context for their training philosophies and addresses the questions: What is the difference between skill and technique? What does a good class look like? What are the expectations of a good teacher? Readers will learn how Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal defines technique and how Nina Novak of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo describes the always elusive concept of perfection. By allowing contradictions to exist amongst the various viewpoints, Speer lets readers decide which methods work best for their teaching practices.



Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces

edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: A window into the theory and practice of site-specific dance.


Two university dance faculty members have produced the first anthology ever to examine site-specific dance performance. Editors Melanie Kloetzel of the University of Calgary and Carolyn Pavlik of Western Michigan University seek to raise awareness about the lack of support for this 40-year-old dance genre and push it into the realm of serious art. Through poignant personal interviews and essays from American choreographers, including Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood and Eiko Otake, the editors reveal “what compelled these artists to find a way of working outside the norm, why site dance developed when it did and what continues to make it relevant in our current cultural framework.” Readers will find the book’s four sections easy to navigate—the choreographers are grouped together by similar themes in their processes and works—and will enjoy seeing the dances come to life through more than 80 black-and-white photographs.



Photo by Emily Giacalone

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