When I grew up some of my favourite books were the ones with glossy photos of dancers showing me what the five positions of the feet were, or how to do a developpe or about what to wear and do at a dance class! These books were not stories or fictional made up books, but were real life examples of what I loved doing which made them all that more engaging.
The Best non-fiction and information dance books are written by professionals and experts in the field of dance. They have photographs of professional dancers or students from renowned schools or illustrations showing correct technique and use terminology appropriate to the style of dance being examined.
Non-Fiction books are informational. They teach and instruct and they come in a variety of formats – some with photographs, others with sketches and others with no images at all, and the style of book you choose will depend on both your dancers interests and age.
Now I have separated the books into those I feel are better for younger and teen or adult dancers but I have to say, I adore looking at the books made for younger dancers even today, so please let these categories just be a guide and get which you feel is best for your dancer!
FOR THE YOUNGER DANCERS
My First Ballet Class: A Book with Foldout Pages
This is a great non-fiction book for preschool or kindergarten dancers. It has thick cardstock pages and fold outs to keep even the youngest dancers engaged and interested, but is also informative with detailed step by step instructions for the different ballet positions and more. Take a look at this book on Amazon.com here.
The Ballet Book
Darcey Bussell the author of this book was a former Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom and until quite recently could be seen as a judge of the UK television dance competition show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. She is currently the president of the Royal Academy of Dance also known as the RAD an examining association whose syllabus is followed throughout the world. Because of her associations, this book gives viewers an inside view into not only of her ballet life, but also that of the Royal Ballet School in London, making it a must have book for any serious young Ballerina! You can have a look at the inside of this book and some of the pages here on Amazon.com
The History Of Ballet For Kids
The History of Ballet for Kids was written by Margarita de Lourdes Terrones has written a great book that helps to explain how ballet came to be in an easy to read book for children around the age of seven and up. There are 16 chapters in the book with headings such as The Fifteenth Century and The Medici Family and it is a great informative read. To check it out click here to go to Amazon.com
DK Eyewitness Books: Dance
I have borrowed this particular book from the library before and found it to be extremely helpful and informational on such a wide variety of dance styles from around our globe. This book would be a great gift for the dancer who is not just into ballet but loves trying out new styles and is passionate about their dance. You can have a look at the inside of this book on Amazon.com here.
The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories
I came across our own personal copy of this book when we borrowed it from the library and some pages fell out of it and upon advising the library they said we could keep it as it was on their list to purge from their collection soon anyway! My then three year old adored looking at the pictures and asking me all about them although could not quite sit still for me to actually read it to her and so I would have to skim read and pull out the most important parts for her. But what was fantastic was how much understanding it brought to her the day we went and saw our first full length ballet Sleeping Beauty as she knew all the characters and what was going on, which is a little different to the more well known disney version we have all come to know. Check this one out on Amazon.com here.
Ballerina: A Step by Step Guide to Ballet (with DVD)
In the opening paragraphs of this book, I wrote about how I owned a ballet book that I loved to read. Well I could not find that book, honestly I think it is probably out of print, but this one is the most similar I could find to it! This book Ballerina: A Step by Step Guide to Ballet (with DVD) written by Jane Hackett takes you on a wonderful journey in which you learn all about ballet through a ballet class. What I also really like is the diversity of female dancers used within this book, although I wish there were some more male dancers featured within its pages. You can check out this great book and have a look inside here on Amazon.com
A child’s Introduction to Ballet: The Stories, Music and Magic of Classical Dance
This book was written by Laura Lee a dance educator and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton and tells the tale of over 25 of the worlds most loved ballets! There is also an illustrated history of ballet, as well as the information on the greatest dancers, composers and choreographers, so it is more than just a book of stories. This book has been updated to allow you to download music tracks from each of the ballets – To have a look at this book as well as some of the pages inside click here to go to Amazon.com. If you would prefer to look at the old edition which comes with a CD instead click here.
Welcome to Ballet School
Authored by Ashley Bouder, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and illustrated by Julia Bereciartu, this book although not a conventional information book teaches children five basic dance lessons before helping them put on their own show of Sleeping Beauty. To take a look at this book click here to go to Amazon.com
This is another book I have previously loaned from our local library and what I loved about it was that not only did it have pages with wonderful photos and information about styles such as Irish dancing, ballroom dance, middle eastern and Asian dance but it also looks at popular or commercial dance as performed by artists such as the late Michael Jackson. This is a fun informative book that would be great for any dancer interested in a variety of styles of dance and you can have a look at the inside here on Amazon.com
Kenzie’s Rules for Life
Now this book sort of sits on the cusp of being great for tweens as well as teens which is why I have selected it to go nearest the next category. Mackenzie Ziegler is known for getting her start on the reality television series ‘Dance Moms’ and became a well loved dance on that show. In this book she offers advice from all that she has learned about growing up in the spotlight as a dancer, model and actress. This book in particular is great for not only fans of the show but for all tweens and younger teens who aspire to follow in Kenzie’s footsteps and dance to their own beat. You can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here.
Where is Broadway?
This is a wonderful book about the history of Broadway and includes information about various shows and stars, written by Douglas Yacka and Francesco Sedita. It is a great read for musical theatre lovers around the ages of 8 and up! To take a look at it on Amazon.com click here.
Prima Princessa Ballet for Beginners
I am a sucker for informational ballet books that feature professional or elite ballet schools and companies and this one features the School of American Ballet, so you know the quality of the photos, technique and terminology will be spot on! You can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here
FOR THE TEEN OR ADULT DANCER
The Ballet Companion
The Ballet Companion was authored by Eliza Gaynor Minden who was a ballet dancer and is the head of design of the well known dance shoe company Gaynor Minden. This book is 352 pages jam packed of everything a ballet dancer would ever want to know! It is full of photographs and illustrations and would be the perfect addition to any dancers collection! Check out whats on the inside here on Amazon.com
Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story
This book published by DK should really be called the ballet encyclopedia, because it really is a book just packed full of information about the history of ballet, ballet companies and of many famous ballet dancers! It is a ballet staple and must have in any serious ballet dancers book collection! Take a look inside of this book here on Amazon.com
Dance Anatomy written by Jacqui Hass is an essential book for dancers! The body is a dancers instrument and knowing how the muscles, tendons, bones and joints work to create movement should be common knowledge for a dancer, but sadly this kind of information is rarely actually taught to dancers especially in as much depth as it is in this book! I really enjoy looking at all the illustrations that show which muscles are activated when you do certain movements and how each movement affects the different areas and parts of the body. To take a closer look including at the inside pages on Amazon.com click here.
Ballerina Body is written by prolific Principal Artist of the American Ballet Theatre Misty Copeland. In this book Misty explores how to develop a healthy and strong dancers body that is able to cope with the stresses and demands placed on it as a dancer. The book includes work out routines, recipes, words of inspiration and motivation and more. To have a look at the book and pages inside click here to see it on Amazon.com
Ballet Helps Everything!
Dawn C Crouch the Author of Ballet Helps Everything writes that not everyone will grow up to dance in a famous company and that is what I love about this book! It is an easy read about 10 reasons why ballet training is beneficial to develop key lifes skills not only creating dancers, but the full and whole person that they become. You can check this book out on Amazon.com here and have a look inside as well!
Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet
This book revised in 1982 although older, is known by many as the definitive compendium of ballet terms and a valuable manual to all things technical in ballet. It was written by Gail Grant and the book describes over 1,100 ballet steps! It has an english pronounciation guide and references alternative names as varied by the Russian, French and Italian Schools. This is an invaluable resource for the serious dancer! Take a look on Amazon.com here.
Basic Principals of Classical Ballet:
So this book is not light reading, but if you know a serious ballet dancer and they want to know more about the renowned Vaganova Russian Ballet Technique, than there is not other guide that is better than this one written by the master herself Agrippina Vaganova and translated from Russian into English by Anatole Chujoy. Take a look at it on Amazon.com here.
As a dancer I wanted to be on Broadway, my dream was to be a triple threat and be a musical theatre star. This wonderful book is full of photos, history and information all about musicals and would be a lovely addition to any dancers library. To take a look at it click here to go to Amazon.com
Street Dance The Best Moves
Street Dance The Best Moves by DJ Hooch is the ultimate information guide on street dance today. It has links to embedded videos showing the moves step by step as well as lot of great photos of several featured dancers. You can check it out on Amazon.com here