Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition Hardcover – Sep 4 2011
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About the Author
Catherine E. Pawlick danced with ballet companies in the United States before moving to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lived for six years, observing classes at the Vaganova Academy and rehearsals and performances at the Mariinsky Theatre. Fluent in French and Russian, she has written on dance for the "San Francisco Chronicle," "Ballet Review," and "Dance Europe."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've always been a fan of ballet and, although I would like to think of myself as fairly well informed about it, I had to admit after reading the book that I fall into that category of audience member that really needs to be better educated about what I'm seeing in order to get the full value of the experience. I loved that part of the book where this is discussed. Loved the references throughout the years about the differences between ballet, sports and circus! So very well put and important not to forget. "How you lift your leg is more important than how high it goes" is SO true.
Reading the book also took me someplace else I wasn't expecting. Something the author hasn't started to experience yet...but getting older is a real adventure. I still remember my first impressions and introductions to classical ballet. I was still a teenager when I saw Maya Plisétskaya dance and in my mind's eye she's still as she was then. I about fell off my chair when reading Vaganova Today led me to realize she's now in her 80s! How could that be? Where did the time go? But then, I seem not to notice that I'm pushing 70!!! What I remember most vividly about seeing the Kirov productions and something I still comment about when I go to other productions from other companies is the almost perfect synchronization of the corps de ballet...you just don't see that anywhere else and now, thanks to Pawlick's book, I know why that is.
What made reading Vaganova even more exciting and pleasurable is that I did it with my laptop sitting next to me plugged into YouTube and I was able to go from reading something in the book to watching a video of one of the dancers mentioned and was able to see just what the author was talking about. Which leads me to my final observation. It took me most of last night to get through the final 20 pages or so because I couldn't stop looking at Uliana Lopatkina videos! I must have watched her doing the Dying Swan ten or more times in videos filmed in different years each one getting more and more beautiful as she perfected the moves with the passing of time. (Of course, having to stop reading while I dried my tears after each swan death and get ready for another emotional onslaught didn't help the reading to go any faster!). She is absolutely gorgeous; I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to see her dance in person and to actually have been able to sit across from her and interview her has got to be an experience the author will cherish forever. What a treat!
And finally , as any good author will do, Pawlick left me wanting more.
Although not a biography per se, the book offers a substantial historical review of the life of Mme Vaganova, the ballet teacher who developed the instructional method that led to the great Soviet ballet style (now a universal style). The 'bio section' affords an alternative to the 'politically skewed' Soviet-era biography of Vaganova by Krassovskaya.
This intelligently-written, yet highly-understandable, tome will delight both specialists and balletomanes. Generously illustrated.
When I came to USA and started teaching in dance schools, I was surprised to see so many young kids, way too young to attempt ballet. I started when I was 9 years old and my body had some control and coordination. I was able to pass the exams every year for the 9 years of training.
This book makes me realize the high level of training and excellence in education I had. It also brings to the forefront the question of "when are we going to recognize the damage that can be done to a 5 year old on pointe?" And also, "where are American ballet teachers get their pedagogical experience?".
Amanda Selby, London
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