Ever wanted to write, better pronounce, or better understand a term in ballet? Then you must grab yourself a copy of Gail Grant’s Technical Manual & Dictionary of Classical Ballet. This small book is an absolute must-have for anyone interested ballet professionally or for college.
Considered in the dance world to unquestionably be the best reference for ballet terms, this little tome is fairly inexpensive (just about $10 in the listing on Amazon) and is simply an A-Z reference for virtually every ballet term used or in use.
Part of what makes the Gail Grant Dictionary such a standby is its inclusion and cross-reference of terminology across ballet techniques. For instance, if you go to a summer intensive and hear the word raccourci, looking it up in Grant’s Dictionary would tell you that it is as a term of the French School. The definition then cross-references you to the Russian term retiré, so you will learn the interchangeability of the terms. (I’m sure you know that ballet originated in France and was exported to other countries where it further evolved. Thus the development of varying techniques from the Italians, the Danes, the Russians, the Americans and the Cubans. These have all made their way to the United States. With so many techniques here, it is common to hear different terms from different teachers, even within the same school.) You would also learn that it means shortened – referring to the bend at the knee which “shortens” the leg – because this position is actually a variation on a développé a lá seconde!
If you are looking for books to support your training and develop you into a knowledgeable dancer, Gail Grant’s Dictionary just can’t be beat. There are quite a few other books that are invaluable for dancers, but you’ll find that this one stands firm at the top of the list for professional dancers, serious students and seasoned teachers.