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Russian Ballet Lesson

Updated on November 15, 2014
Performing a miniature production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"
Performing a miniature production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"

This is part 5 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Perform a miniature production of The Nutcracker, learn the basic positions in ballet, watch videos of and read about famous Russian dancers including Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky, and Baryshnikov, and more while learning about Russian ballet. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used as we studied Russian Ballet using the fun unit study book Russia: Land of Endurance by Konos Curriculum.

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Included in this lens you'll find some of the activities we did along with our favorite books we read and YouTube clips we watched while we studied Russian Ballet. Topics featured include Ballet, Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker, More Tchaikovsky Ballets, and Famous Russian Ballet Dancers: Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev, & Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Ballet

Practicing ballet positions

Our Favorite Book on Ballet

Ballet
Ballet

This was our favorite book that gave a good overview of ballet in general.

 

More Good Books on Ballet

Also look for "Jake the Ballet Dog" by Karen LeFrak, "Dance Me a Story: Twelve Tales from the Classic Ballets" by Jane Rosenberg, and "My First Ballet Book" by Kate Castle.

T is for Tutu: A Ballet Alphabet (Sports Alphabet)
T is for Tutu: A Ballet Alphabet (Sports Alphabet)

The focuses on a different aspect of ballet for each letter of the alphabet. It includes a short bit (perfect for when reading to younger children) and then explains the topic a bit more (great for older children). It also has nice illustrations and does include both male and female dancers.

 
Child's Introduction to Ballet: The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance
Child's Introduction to Ballet: The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance

This is a longer picture book that includes a great overview of ballet and even includes a CD with some of the most famous songs from ballets.

 

YouTube Clips We Enjoyed on Ballet

We only watched brief parts of "History of The Russian Ballet: Bolshoi Theatre" as it is in Russian.

Tchaikovsky

More ballet practice

Our Favorite Stories About on Tchaikovsky

Also look for "Tchaikovsky" (Famous Children) by Ann Rachlin (a picture book) and "Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet" by Opal Wheeler (a short chapter book).

Peter Tchaikovsky (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)
Peter Tchaikovsky (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)

This was our favorite children's biography on Tchaikovsky. It covers his entire life and has fun illustrations with occasional quirky comments that my children find hilarious.

 
Tchaikovsky Discovers America
Tchaikovsky Discovers America

This is a great dramatized historical fiction CD that gives a nice introduction to Tchaikovsky by placing him on a train in America with 2 Russian children. They discuss Russia and various other topics. Tchaikovsky's music is woven throughout the story. We LOVE the Classical Kids CD series (including this CD) and own them all. We have listened to them for many years and still continue to enjoy listening to them.

 

Tchaikovsky's Biography: The Creation of Genius

This BBC documentary contains some adult themes, so we only watched short clips from this biography.

The Nutcracker

Our miniature performance of The Nutcracker

(Act I characters include: Herr Drosselmeyer,

Fritz, The Mouse King, Marie/Clara, & The Nutcracker Prince)

Our Favorite Book Versions of "The Nutcracker"

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker

This has beautiful illustrations and minimal text so that even my toddler enjoyed listening to the book.

 
The Nutcracker Ballet
The Nutcracker Ballet

This is an equally wonderful retelling of the story that includes gorgeous watercolor illustrations and a short text.

 

Our Favorite Nutcracker Video

We watched this video of "The Nutcracker" to get inspired before creating the costumes and choreographing our own mini-version of the ballet to perform.

More Tchaikovsky Ballets

Swan Lake
Swan Lake

This is a nice picture book retelling of "Swan Lake." In this version, the prince and the Swan Queen get married (rather than plunge into the lake to die together as is the traditional ending).

 
The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Theatre
The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Theatre

This is such a fun play set! It includes a miniature stage, ballet dancers that are on sticks so they can move around and twirl with ease, a booklet that tells the story of the ballet, and the CD. Also look for the "Swan Lake Ballet Theatre" and "The Nutcracker Ballet Theatre."

 

Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty on YouTube

I included great short clips and also the full versions.

The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories
The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories

This includes illustrated stories of 5 famous ballets including "The Nutcracker", "Swan Lake", and "Sleeping Beauty." It also includes a CD that features some of the music for each of the ballets. The book not only includes the stories but also includes history, tips, and more about each ballet. We loved this so much that we bought it. My girls especially love dancing to the music on the CD!

 

Famous Russian Ballet Dancers

Lovely picture book on Anna Pavlova

I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina
I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina

This is a wonderful picture book that incorporates memoirs from Anna Pavlova about her seeing "Sleeping Beauty" as a young child. The book is gorgeously illustrated with paintings by Edgar Degas.

 

More of Our Favorite Children's Books on Famous Russian Ballet Dancers

Also look for "Pavlova's Gift" by Maxine Trottier (a picture book about Pavlova and Czar Nicholas), "Anna Pavlova, Jewel of the Ballet" by Elizabeth G. Uhlig (a picture book biography), "Dance of the Swan: The Story About Anna Pavlova" by Barbara Allman (a short chapter book biography), "Nijinsky" by Catherine Brighton (a picture book biography), and "The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev" by Linda Maybarduk (a chapter book biography).

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot

This is a fun, short picture book about the performance of the Rite of Spring and focuses on how Stravinsky and Nijinsky broke many traditions in this performance.

 
Because . . .
Because . . .

This picture book isn't about Mikhail Baryshnikov. It was written by him and is about an eccentric grandmother (who of course loves to dance). The message behind the book is to be yourself.

 

YouTube Clips We Enjoyed on Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev, & Mikhail Baryshnikov

Just to let you know, the biography video on Nureyev does briefly mention that he may have been romantically involved with men.

Great Class or Family Read Aloud Chapter Book

Turning, The
Turning, The

This is an excellent chapter book about a Russian ballerina who contemplates defecting to France in 1991 during the collapse of the Cold War. The book includes so much about the Soviet Union during the Cold War and about ballet as well. It is a perfect match for this week of lessons which comes just before the lessons on the Cold War.

 

Performing ballet after taking ballet classes

Ready for more?

Designing and launching rockets from Lesson 6: The Cold War and Arms Race
Designing and launching rockets from Lesson 6: The Cold War and Arms Race

Cook borscht and blini, study and paint like the famous artists of Russia, perform a miniature "Nutcracker" ballet performance, dramatize a Communist lunch (complete with sentencing to "Siberia" for the non-compliant), and more in the fun 8 part study on Russia!

  • Russian Geography and Early Russian History Lesson - This is part 1 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Paint a Russian Orthodox triptych, taste caviar, play the Russian Temperate Zone Game, read classic Baba Yaga tales, and more while learning about Russian geography and early Russian history. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian geography and early Russian history.
  • Russian Czars Lesson - This is part 2 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Construct a model of the Red Square, attempting Cossack-style dancing, decorate eggs like Carl Faberge, read classic Czar tales, and more while learning about Russian Czars. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian Czars.
  • Russian Revolution Lesson - This is part 3 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Play the Russian Civil War version of Capture the Flag, endure a "Communist" lunch complete with trying to trade food on the black market, create Communist flags, and more while learning about the Russian Revolution. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Russian Revolution.
  • Siberia Lesson - This is part 4 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Sketch an Aurora Borealis landscape scene using pastels, making grape jelly to demonstrate the smelting process, cut out various shapes of snowflakes, dress up as and pretend to be musk oxen, walruses, Siberian tigers, and reindeer, and more while learning about Siberia. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Siberia.
  • Russian Ballet Lesson - This is part 5 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Perform a miniature production of The Nutcracker, learn the basic positions in ballet, watch videos of and read about famous Russian dancers including Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky, and Baryshnikov, and more while learning about Russian ballet. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian ballet.
  • The Cold War and Arms Race Lesson - This is part 6 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Design and launch various types of rockets, dramatize the Berlin Airlift and the Chocolate Pilot, prepare and eat blini, and more while learning about the Cold War and the Arms Race. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Cold War and the Arms Race.
  • The Space Race and The Olympics Lesson - This is part 7 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Make a full-size model of Sputnik 1, learn gymnastics moves and host a miniature Olympics gymnastics competition, experiment with sugar while learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and more while learning about the Space Race and Russian Olympics. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Space Race and Russian Olympics.
  • End of the Cold War and Russian Artists Lesson - This is part 8 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Recreate Kandinsky’s and Marc Chagall’s works, build and then knock down a model of the Berlin Wall, decorate pysanky eggs, make and eat kulich, and more while learning about the end of the Cold War and contemporary Russian artists. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the end of the Cold War and contemporary Russian artists.
  • Russia: Faberge, Chess, & Borscht – This lesson provides a simple overview of Russia. I have compiled all you will need to locate Russia on a map, cook a Russian meal, watch YouTube clips on Russia, color the flag, create a Russian craft, read a great book about Russia, and more!
  • Ukraine: A Missing Mitten, Pysanky Easter Eggs, & Babka Bread – If you would like to learn a bit more on Ukraine, visit my lesson at which I have shared all you will need to locate Ukraine on a map, cook a Ukrainian meal, watch YouTube clips on Ukraine, color the flag, create a Ukrainian craft, read a great book about Ukraine, and more!

Russia: Land of Endurance

All of the above activities featured in the photos are just some of the many excellent activities featured in Russia: Land of Endurance by Konos Curriculum. The curriculum is easy to follow, with a lesson full of activities for each day of the week. You can either buy the book or you can buy the lesson book along with needed craft supplies and books.

© 2013 iijuan12

What first comes to mind when you think of Russian Ballet? - Or just let me know you were here! I love hearing from you!

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    • tonyaalves3 profile image

      tonyaalves3 3 years ago

      I never been to any type of ballet. I would love to. Thanks for sharing your lens. the kids are toooo cute:)

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 3 years ago from Florida

      @tonyaalves3: Thank you so much for visiting!

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