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Dance Advantage, November 2009

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

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.

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.

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