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Ptak, Andrew.

Toronto, Key Porter Books, c1984. 128pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-919493-45-9. CIP

Grades 4 and up
Reviewed by Jane Robinson

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

The foreword, by nationally acclaimed ballerina Karen Kain, instead of being a wholehearted endorsement of the book, is somewhat cautionary: "This book cannot replace your dance teacher. . . Use it to review what you have already learned . . ." Sound advice, but when you consider the cost of this guide for elementary school students, you have to more seriously consider whether it is worth that purchase price.

Essentially, it is a comprehensive guide to ballet positions and exercises, to which photographer Ptak has added some interesting finishing touches; chapters about the history of ballet, biographies of famous ballet dancers, a behind-the-scenes perspective (including choreography), and the stories of five famous ballets. Quality is evident throughout the book, from the cloth binding to the heavy paper used to show off striking black-and-white photographs.

Ptak has taken great care to provide the young dancer with a technically precise, graphic photograph of each progressively difficult ballet step, along with a brief but thorough description explaining the how and why of each progression.

It would be a lovely book for any serious young dancer to own, but whether libraries should purchase it depends on their existing collection and reader population. Its primary usefulness is supplementary, therefore it would seem unnecessary to add it to similar titles. It is much more contemporary than most others of its kind however, if this aspect of your collection needs updating or building.

Jane Robinson, Winnipeg, Man.
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