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The principles of Vaganova's system are presented in this well-known book. Mme. Vaganova's aim of creating a personal approach to the Russian dance was based on the critical assimilation of the experience of her contemporaries. Her ability to choose the best of what had been accomplished in the various ballet traditions (French, Italian, and Russian) and combine these into a unified teaching practice in itself amounted to a new school of dance. She firmly believed that the teaching process should be a planned exercise, ever changing with innovations in the dance. She sought from her pupils emotional expressiveness, strictness of form, a resolute, energetic manner of performance, and the understanding of the underlying coordination of movements.
Her book discusses all basic principles of ballet, grouping movements by fundamental types. Chapters cover battements, rotary movements of the legs, the arms, poses of the classical dance, connecting and auxiliary movements, jumps, beats, point work, and turns as well as material for a sample lesson. Diagrams show clearly the exact foot, leg, arm, and body positions for the proper execution of many steps and movements. The result is a fundamental theory of dance that offers dancers, teachers, and ballet lovers information often difficult to locate in other books.
The format of the book evolved from the idea that improvisation is a good way to learn choreography. This approach is in harmony with widely accepted dance philosophies that value the unique quality of each individual’s creativity. After discussing a concept, the authors provide improvisations, and choreographic studies that give the student a physical experience of that concept. The language is stimulating an innovative, rich in visual images that will challenge the choreographer to explore new directions in movement.
The book is for serious dance students and professionals who are interested in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the art, dancers who are just starting to choreograph, and teachers who are seeking fresh ideas and new approaches to use with young choreographers. (A Teacher’s Addendum offers suggestions on how to use the material in the classroom.) It is a guide, a text, and an extensive resource of every choreographic concept central to the art form.