January 22nd, 2007

books

'Busby Berkeley on pointe'

This is apparently how some people have described Swan Lake. The BBC's new Tchaikowsky season got off to a cracking start yesterday with The Magic of Swan Lake, introduced by Darcey Bussell. Isn't she lovely? This was followed by a performance from the Mariensky Theatre in St Petersburg. I recorded it to watch later and still haven't seen it all.

When I was a child we had the ballet music on a set of 78s. As we had few records and played them a lot, I know the music very well and Tchaikowsky was my introduction to classical music. Like many women, I suspect, everything I know about ballet I learned from Ballet Shoes and Lorna Hill's 'Wells' books. Even now, watching these professional dancers, I can imagine Posy Fossil in the wings, criticising their footwork. Checking my Lorna Hill books I found that of fourteen titles in the series, five feature Swan Lake. I've put scans of some of these, with other ballet books from my shelves, in a gallery which you can view here. You'll need to click on the images to see them properly.

Hate ballet? Have a laugh with A Bullet in the Ballet by Caryl Brahms & S J Simon and its sequel Six Curtains for Stroganova.