Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preparing Kids to Watch a Ballet

It has been more than two years since Little T started twirling and leaping about, pretending to be a ballerina. We are waiting for her to turn six, or older, before enrolling her in ballet school. (I keep telling her that prima ballerina Lisa Macuja, who we watched in “Giselle” last year, started her ballet studies at age eight – at least according to Wikepedia!)

One of the ballet costumes that a friend gave Little T for
pretend play.

Two years ago, I wrote about how we’re having ballet fun at home, even though I don’t have any dance background. Now that Little T is five, we’re still at it! This time, however, we can already bring her to watch ballet performances, both professional and amateur. 

The Story of Swan Lake

Little T gave out a teeny, tiny squeal when I told her that we are going on a date to watch “Swan Lake.” It is a recital production of the Radaic School of Classical Ballet and will be held at the Meralco Theater on May 19. (For details and tickets, call Ms. Helen at 0915-1137108.)

Here are some of the things we are doing to make sure that we enjoy the event as much as possible. 

Listen to the music

Truth be told, looking for a production of “Swan Lake” was really just an excuse to introduce Maestro Classics’ “The Story of Swan Lake” to my children! The CD deserves a review in a separate blog post, but let me just say that Maestro Classics can educate children and grown-ups alike about the beauty of classical music. We first fell in love with it with “Peter and the Wolf.” 
The Story of Swan Lake by Maestro Classics
From the website of Maestro Classics

The first time we listened to the recording, we just sat still and tried to have a Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time or SQUILT, something I read over at Homegrown Learners. We have been listening everyday for a week now. The tracks that discuss Tschaikovsky (the composer) and the music are very helpful in making us aware and appreciative of the nuances in what we are hearing.

Read the story

We have quite a number of ballet books, but the most treasured of all are the two compilations of ballet stories: “The Random House Book of Stories from the Ballet” and “The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories” by DK Publishing. 

The book by Random House is a collection of ten popular ballet stories that include “The Nutcracker,” “Giselle,” and Little T’s favorite, “Coppelia.” Told in a dramatic style, it is a perfect, though quite long, read-aloud.

“The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories” by Barbara Newman has almost the same stories in its collection, but contains additional information on the ballet’s history, music, and choreography. For example, we learned that a ballerina's crossed arms in "Swan Lake" means "to marry."

Learn about the music

We first read up on the orchestra when we were preparing to watch “Giselle.” We’re lucky to have several awesome books that discuss the different orchestra sections and instrument families: “The Orchestra” by Mark Rubin, “Ah, Music!” by Aliki, and “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!” by Lloyd Moss.

We are also taking advantage of technology and are enjoying some online resources:

Study related topics

Since the lead characters of “Swan Lake” are a prince and a (swan) princess, we read up on kings and queens. We've had the book “The King’s Day" by Aliki for quite a while but never really knew when the right time would be to read it. It turns out that the Sun King, Louis XIV, danced ballet himself, and even brought the dance to his French court, making this a perfect go-along book with Swan Lake.

We're now on the lookout for real, flying, or just waddling swans. I don't know know where we will find one but for the meantime, we are content reading about white and black swans in our small encyclopedia of animals and other online sources. We also made this fun swan craft. I downloaded a swan coloring page and handed Little T some cotton, glue, and crayons!

Dance to the music

And the most important thing to do to prepare for watching a ballet performance, is to dance, twirl, jump, and make music move your soul.

Make magic!

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sanne said...

Go to Fernwood! There are swans there. :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Yahoo! Thank you! Let's go together!

Rainie Flores said...

I bet you and your daughter enjoyed the ballet performance. I remember taking my daughter the first time at a live ballet performance, she was all eyes on the stage and she really enjoyed the night. She didn't stop talking about it for a week or two.