Art & Design
Listen: Listen to one of the most famous scores for a ballet ever composed. Here is the album for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake on Spotify. It will be more appreciated after watching the ballet (and the ballet will be more appreciated after listening to this album).
Read: Read Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet. Synopsis: “As much as we may enjoy Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, for many of us ballet is a foreign language. It communicates through movement, not words, and its history lies almost entirely abroad–in Russia, Italy, and France. In Celestial Bodies, dance critic Laura Jacobs makes the foreign familiar, providing a lively, poetic, and uniquely accessible introduction to the world of classical dance. Combining history, interviews with dancers, technical definitions, descriptions of performances, and personal stories, Jacobs offers an intimate and passionate guide to watching ballet and understanding the central elements of choreography.”
Children & Teenagers
Watch: Watch one of the most popular ballets of all time, Swan Lake, as performed in its native country, Russia. Swan Lake tells the story of Odette who is a princess that was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. If a preview helps, here is a two minute video of Dance of the Little Swans and here is another ten minute portion of the ballet.
Children & Teenagers
Watch: Watch of the most popular ballets and Christmas stories, The Nutcracker, as performed by the New York City Ballet. For a three minute preview of the ballet, watch Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (and here is another version of it).
Language & Thought
Toddlers and Children
Read: Read the Angelina Ballerina series. Synopsis: “Angelina is a pretty little mouse who wants nothing more than to be a ballerina. She dances all the time—at home, at school, even in her dreams! In fact, she’s so busy dancing that she forgets all about the other things she’s supposed to do, like cleaning her room and joining her family for breakfast! Her parents don’t know what to do—especially after her arabesques in the kitchen knock over the milk! Then one day they come up with an idea that will change Angelina’s life forever… the original story, now refreshed and re-released, will continue keeping a whole new generation of young ballerinas leaping with delight.”
Create a Teachable Moment: Integral to the stories of many ballet classics is traditional manhood and chivalry. Point out how traditionally men were expected to treat women as higher than themselves as well as protecting the innocent, aged, or the less able. While it may be less popular today to talk about it, people still generally appreciate these old fashioned values.
How else might important subject matter be learned from this interest topic? Comment below! Half-baked ideas are more than welcome, too.