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list price: $21.99
edition:Hardcover
published: Oct 2011
ISBN:9780887769238
publisher: Tundra

The White Ballets

illustrated by Rajka Kupesic

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5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $21.99
edition:Hardcover
published: Oct 2011
ISBN:9780887769238
publisher: Tundra
Description

Possibly the best-loved of all ballets are “Giselle,” “La Bayadère,” and “Swan Lake.” Known as the White Ballets, they each tell stories of ethereal maidens costumed in floating white, who seem to be lovely creatures suspended somewhere between heaven and earth.

It is every ballerina’s dream to dance “Giselle.” Despite being frail, the simple peasant girl, Giselle, can’t give up dancing. She is afraid that if she dies before she weds, she will become a Wili, a spirit maiden who haunts the forests seeking revenge on young men. Though she can’t change her own fate, she finds a way to save the one she loves.

Nikiya is a beautiful temple dancer, a bayadère. She fights tradition when she falls in love with the warrior Solor. Solor has already been promised to a well-born girl, but he risks everything for Nikiya.

“Swan Lake” is also about recognizing true love and risking everything for it. Prince Siegfried meets Odile by the shores of a mysterious lake and he vows to marry her. But Odile is under a curse: she must spend every day in the form of a swan and is only human for a few hours during the night. If they are to spend eternity together, Siegfried has to find a way to lift the curse.

Rajka Kupesic, herself a dancer, has retold the stories and set them against her breathtaking art to create a book to cherish. Notes about the ballets are included.

Contributor Notes

Rajka Kupesic was classically trained as a ballerina and danced in Europe. As a painter, she is known for her unique handling of detail, color, and mood, which infuses the familiar with an extraordinary quality. Her paintings have been shown in numerous galleries worldwide. Her first book Claire’s Gift, was awarded the Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Best Children’s Book. She lives in Toronto with her husband. They have two sons.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
3 to 7
Grade:
p to 2

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The White Ballets

This exquisite new book by dancer and painter Rajka Kupesic tells the story of the “ballets blancs,” those ballets in which the corps de ballet wear identical white costumes to create an ethereal backdrop to the main action. These ballets — Swan Lake, Giselle and La Bayadère — tell stories of love, betrayal and death, in a world fraught with sorcery and magic. In Swan Lake, Prince Siegfried falls in love with an enchanted maiden and breaks her lifelong spell. Giselle is a peasant girl who loves unwisely and dies for her love. Nikiya longs to be a bayadère, or temple dancer; she, too, loves above her station and dies for her love.

After telling the story of each ballet, Kupesic puts each one in historical context with interesting commentary and personal anecdotes from her performances, along with detailed explanations of the pictures. The paintings, done in oil and gold leaf, are not so much literal representations of the action as they are symbolic interpretations. The swan maidens are half woman, half swan. Giselle’s mad scene depicts the events leading up to her madness as well as her death. Tiny details abound — the miniature white swan in the palace window, repeating flower patterns, a golden idol in a questioning pose.

As she did with Karen Kain’s version of The Nutcracker, Kupesic translates her years of dancing into artwork that gives the feeling of classical ballet itself, beautifully balancing the structure and formality of the dance with movement, fluidity and grace. Feet have the perfect curve, legs the correct turnout, the neck and hand are expressively positioned just so. All of this movement takes place within a traditional one, or two-page spread outlined in formal borders. Her palette is rich and bold, with deep dark blues, reds and golds. But throughout, there is the light of hope in the form of the delicate corps de ballet in their shimmering costumes and the ever-present moon, representing the maiden, mother and crone, “a symbol of femininity, purity, wisdom, and forgiveness,” as the artist tells us in her final note. Kupesic has taken great care with these luminous paintings and they truly shine. This lovely book will delight lovers of the ballet as well as those who love a beautifully illustrated fairy story.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2012. Volume 35 No. 1.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The White Ballets

The most significant of the white ballets, or ballets blancs, are Giselle, La Bayadère and Swan Lake. In this beautifully illustrated book Rajka Kupesic retells these three stories, gives us background information about each ballet and includes thoughts about her artwork. This is a keepsake edition for dancers, ballet enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates stunning artwork.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

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