Having the best ballet books means you can approach this graceful form of art in many aspects: technique, inspiration, and emotion. If we think about what ballet dancers have to sacrifice to reach the apex of passion and perfection, we can see such potential materials for literature creativity. And here are some formidable candidates for the list.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Ballet Books for Adults
- 1. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet – Best Book on Ballet Technique
- 2. The Ballet Book: The Young Performer’s Guide to Classical Dance
- 3. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition
- 4. Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection
- 5. The Art of Movement – Best Ballet Photography Book
- 6. Ballerina Project
- 7. Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story
- 8. Astonish Me (Vintage Contemporaries)
- 9. Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
- 10. No Ballet Shoes in Syria
- 5 Best Ballet Books For Toddlers & Kids
10 Best Ballet Books for Adults
1. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet – Best Book on Ballet Technique
- Author: Gail Grant
A lot of ballet instructors would recommend the Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant as the must-have textbook for everyone interested in ballet or working with the art, from fans and new dancers to veterans and choreographers.
The original version includes all the basic terms one ought to know, but the latest edition definitely takes the book to a whole new level with a perfect combination of traditional and modern. The word choices have also changed as they explain over 1000 ballet moves along with related concepts.
In each segment, they start with phonetics, literal meanings, how to execute the step, and which concepts would make the most use of it. Not only does it show you the fundamental of ballet, but it also helps you build a certain style and purpose.
Despite the seemingly wordy format, the guidebook keeps its readers excited with pictorial pages. They were diagrams of positioning for body parts in standard and accurate postures, illustrated by the author herself.
2. The Ballet Book: The Young Performer’s Guide to Classical Dance
As ballet was a very active form of art, the best ballet books for beginners should be simple but effective, so beginners are aware of the struggles and inspired by the beauty of the dance.
The Ballet Book: The Young Performer’s Guide to Classical Dance is approved and associated with the National Ballet School of Canada. It transfers the delight and the commitment of ballet very well, regardless of the reader’s age. You can add it to your ballet book collection or send it as a gift for young dancers.
Aside from necessary information such as what to prepare, how to find an instructor, which music style is appropriate, and nutrition even, the book now includes about 100 pictures with detailed illustrations. They give you an insight into the steps as well as how to perform them precisely.
From The Ballet Book, aspiring dancers might also learn more tips to find good studios as well as career opportunities. It thus becomes a great guidance for all ballet enthusiasts.
3. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition
Memoir of famous dancers is another type in the category of books about ballet for young adults that you can consider. Life in Motion is the story of Misty Copeland, the first black ballerina that became the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre.
What does it feel like when you touch the barre for the first time? Misty’s feeling back then was probably not too different from yours. The book was open about Misty being a prodigy but still facing a harsh reality, both identity and ambition were important to her, and she held onto them so well.
As a professional dancer who has great achievements, Misty Copeland uses her experiences on and off stage to give the readers a profound look into the life of a ballerina. While it doesn’t focus on ballet techniques, it is very inspiring, especially for people who are still hesitant to dream big.
You’ll love: 10 Best Dance Battle Movies To Get You In The Mood
4. Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection
- Author: Deirdre Kelly
Temporarily bidding goodbye to textbooks and memoirs, we venture into a darker but also more realistic world. Although the targeted group of readers becomes smaller, Ballerina by Deirdre Kelly remains one of the best books on the history of ballet.
Throughout the history of ballet, we have constantly associated ballerinas with perfection, but we only see what the spotlight shows us. In early times, ballerinas usually had a hidden identity as concubines. They ended up in a state of poverty in the 19th century. The exploitation and starvation of anorexic ballerinas left an imprint we could never erase.
In this book, you will find remarkable names such as Isadora Duncan. Evelyn Hart, Anna Pavlova, and many more. Their stories openly and honestly express the challenges and the mishaps for ballerinas, then serve as proof for us to see how the world has changed.
You can call Ballerina a critique, for it rounds up with a means to keep this graceful dance style thriving. The dancers need to be acknowledged and respected for their dedication.
5. The Art of Movement – Best Ballet Photography Book
- Author: Ken Browar, Deborah Ory
If you want to find the best ballet picture books and indulge in the visual effect, The Art of Movement is a feast for your eyes. Consider it a photobook with pictures collected from internationally acclaimed ballet theaters and companies.
In this edition, you see over 70 professional dancers in different shades. They come from different backgrounds and walk different paths to build a career and give dancing a new look. Their energy and passion are something a young dancer looks for, and now they are held timelessly in the paper.
The pictures are taken by Ken Browar, a well-known photographer whose creations have been featured in reputed magazines such as Vogue and Elle. His photographs are edited and refined by co-author Deborah Ory, a dancer who turned into an editor after an injury that interrupted her career.
They have a passion for ballet, and they transfer it into their work so earnestly. Along with the pictures, you will find heartfelt and intimate words of advice from these dancers as well as choreographers and directors.
Check more: 60+ Famous Dance Quotes & Sayings To Inspire Dancer
6. Ballerina Project
Another photography book about ballet that you would hear a lot about is Ballerina Project by Dane Shitagi, a photographer from New York. He reaches out to the best dancers of our time and creates an archive of their journey. The Instagram fanbase of the project has gained more than 1 million followers.
In the pages of this phenomenal work, we will have both colored and monotone pictures of over 50 ballet dancers who have made their names known. Their pictorial journey is enlivened by locations known as the lands of ballet: Paris, London, Los Angeles, Rome, and more.
What makes Ballerina Project unique is the exclusive reading experience provided by renowned ballerinas Francesca Hayward and Isabella Boylston. Their charm makes the introduction very attractive and memorable.
This photo book is always ready as a gift for both dancers and photographers with pink satin bound and ribbon and words imprinted with gold foil. It deserves a good spot in your collection.
7. Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story
- Author: DK, Foreword: Viviana Durante
Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story is the combination of knowledge and inspiration. With the legendary ballet dancer Viviana Durante as their consultant, DK paves the way for their readers to discover the ever-so-fascinating world of ballet.
The stories brought to you by DK are a variety. You will get to learn more about famous dancers of the past centuries like Carlos Acosta and Margot Fonteyn. Furthermore, talented choreographers and composers who contribute greatly to a dancer’s success as well as powerful companies will also appear.
Through this book, your knowledge about ballet will be enriched will detailed introductions to celebrated plays such as Swan Lake or The Rite of Spring. It is inspiring, and it gives you a thorough view of ballet from every aspect.
Fret not, you won’t be in a shortage of visual treats. It includes photographs of prodigies, performances, and pieces you won’t find anywhere else, backed up with reliable facts and sources.
8. Astonish Me (Vintage Contemporaries)
- Author: Maggie Shipstead
The best ballet books for dancers don’t always have to be informative. In Astonish Me, you will follow the footsteps of a fictional character named Joan. She appears as a wife, and a mother who tries to lead a contented life, yet her past is more thrilling than one can imagine.
Joan used to dance in Paris and fall head over heels for a superstar dancer. However, after getting disappointed by her lover, Joan let go of her dreams and retreated to a more mundane life. Nonetheless, things change once again when her little son is proven to be a ballet talent.
The world Joan left behind once again comes back to her, as dangerous and hard-hitting as possible. Would her secrets be a threat to her new life? Is she still haunted by shadows from the past? What should she do when the dreams she forsook are in front of her again?
Maggie Shipstead has done a brilliant job of breathing life into the characters and taking them on a journey through fancy Paris, sunny California suburban, and Manhattan in the 70s.
9. Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
- Author: Michaela DePrince, Elaine Deprince
Worldwide superstar Misty Copeland praised Michaela DePrince as a miracle, and we could only be grateful that she decided to share her story. How many people can conquer the hardship of war and body shaming and make their way to stardom?
Michaela was an orphan, but the orphanage that was supposed to give her shelter ended up being a horrendous place. Due to a strange skin condition, she was called “The Devil’s child” and mistreated. It was in a picture of an en pointe ballerina did she find a gleam of hope.
Her adoptive family realized her passion for dancing and encouraged her to attend ballet classes when she was 4 years old. As a student of the American Ballet Theatre, she has become the youngest dancer to lead the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Now, with a promising career ahead, Michaela is very enthusiastic to put her journey into worlds and inspire unfortunate children to be brave and fight for their dreams.
10. No Ballet Shoes in Syria
- Author: Bruton Catherine
Further developing a tragedy and ending it with a beautiful triumphant note, Bruton Catherine delivered everything so beautifully and captivatingly through her writing. Under her pen, the main character Aya is so full of life, ready to inspire young adults who love to dance.
When Syria is drowned in chaos and wars, 11-year-old Aya left the country with her mother and younger brother, searching for asylum. Life in a new country is never easy. They struggle to make a living and keep an eye out for the father who has been separated from them.
In those darkest hours, Aya found the light. The young girl coincidentally came across a ballet class and got noticed by the dance teacher. After seeing what Aya could do, the teacher is highly convinced that this refugee could earn a scholarship and change her life.
Therefore, aside from being an inspirational story for soon-to-be ballerinas, No Ballet Shoes in Syria expresses humanity and hope as well, through the classic storytelling method.
5 Best Ballet Books For Toddlers & Kids
1. The Nutcracker
- Author: New York City Ballet, Illustrator: Valeria Docampo
All ballet lovers must have heard of The Nutcracker, and it is truly a holiday favorite. However, seeing the story on paper with illustrated images might be a very unique and wholesome experience for your little dancers.
Without traveling to one of the ballet capitals, the babies can enter the magical world of The Nutcracker through vibrant pictures. It almost feels like you have become one of the characters in the wonderland or the dancers in the performance.
From the narration to the scenery, this edition is strongly based on the prestigious production of George Balanchine, illustrated by artist Valeria Docampo. It is available in both hardcover and Kindle versions, giving you even more chances to enjoy the beautiful tale.
2. The Night Before the Nutcracker
- Author: John Robert Allman; Illustrator: Julianna Swaney
Opening this book is so similar to getting seats on the front row and preparing yourself for a classic performance with young dancers transforming into familiar characters of The Nutcracker.
As the name indicated, this is a story about the night before the grand show, and the lovely dancers are in bed, heads filled with the rehearsals they have done previously. It is an amazing concept for the little ones because they have an adorable view backstage.
Story by John Robert Allman and illustration by Julianna Swaney, this version of The Nutcracker shows us what an audition feels like. The fitting of costumes and the rehearsals are filled with thrill and determination, and it’s a great experience for the babies.
3. Ballet Shoes
- Author: Noel Streatfeild; Illustrator: Diane Goode
Ballet Shoes is a story by Noel Streatfeild, brought to life with lively pictures by Diane Goode. We follow three orphan girls who live a rather quiet life in a humble family. When the family needs money to survive, they decide they won’t stay still and watch from the side.
They join a dance academy with different goals. Pauline dreams of being the main character in movies. Posy is born to be a dancer. And Petrova prefers being a pilot and flying high.
Where will the story take us with three girls and one pair of pink ballerina slippers? You have to read and find out why this story has become a classic for readers of various ages. It is not only about dancing, it is also an adventure of friendships, talents, and dreams.
4. Welcome to Ballet School
- Author: Ashley Bouder, Illustrator: Julia Bereciartu
Welcome to Ballet School already seems like a title of ballet books for toddlers. It is a textbook with diagrams to give the babies a clear explanation of ballet terminology.
Principal Ashley Bouder of New York City Ballet is the author behind this book, and the illustrator Julia Bereciartu contributes greatly to giving young dancers a great learning experience. Jetés, pirouettes, pliés, and even more challenging moves become more intimate than ever.
Another thing that this book excels in is the answers to professional questions. What do you need to prepare for class? How do you make sure your warm-up exercise is right? What to do to look after your body when you encounter accidents?
Once the basics have been drilled, it’s the right time for our little dancers to experience analyzing and interpreting characters, with Sleeping Beauty as an example.
5. The Secret of the Ballet Book
- Author: Navita Dello
For children who have developed a liking for reading, The Secret of the Ballet Book is among the best fiction books about ballet you can choose for your baby.
Meet Sierra, a girl who aspires to be a famous ballerina even though she has no means to keep her dream alive other than a ballet book. At least until a dancer appears from the pages that were supposed to be lifeless.
The ballerina is Rosella, and she agrees to give Sierra all the necessary training to join an audition that is big enough to convince Sierra’s mom that her ballet dream is not futile.
Navita Dello knows perfectly how to keep the readers hooked on the story with the appearance of an antagonist. Rosella is trapped in the book by a witch, and if Sierra can’t find a way to rescue her, she will forever disappear.
Which category will fit your criteria for the best ballet books? Something like the Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet is amazing for a thorough experience learning about the technique. Or something spicier like Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering? You can even choose fictional literature pieces and enrich your novel collection!