Tiny Extra Fun for La Bayadere

La Bayadere takes place in Ancient India! One thing you’ll notice when you see India on a map is that it’s got a lot of water around it and when a body of land has a lot of water around it, the place is usually HUMID. Humid places are wet: you can feel water in the air, it rains often and it might even be a warm place with little pockets where the water stays in the ground like lakes or rivers. Also notice, India is pretty BIG!

India has a lot of green plants, because it’s got so much water. It’s got LOTS of rivers.

The first picture can be downloaded for coloring: make sure you have a big blue crayon to outline the rivers!

And now that you see how much water there is, consider this: the story of La Bayadere starts when they find a FIRE they can’t put out.

Science: Fire (in many forms)

You probably already know that water puts out (or extinguishes) fire, but if we don’t have enough water to cover the flames, a fire can keep going and eat up whatever is in its path. How can fire do that?

Fire is very both strong and beautiful. Did you notice in this video, the teacher talked about the colors inside the fire? In La Bayadere, we also see the dancers move their bodies to show they are looking at the SHAPE and MOVEMENT of the fire.

There are lots of ways to look at and think about an element like fire and doing crafts to work through what you see when you see fire is a really good way to start. What do you observe about fire when you recreate it using paper, crayons and glue?

This one is for my preschoolers.
This 2D and 3D model may be best for my kindergarteners.
This 3D mixed media project may be best for my elementary school dancers.

I know that, when I was young, I got really frustrated that my art didn’t show others what I saw when I looked at things. If you’ve ever had that feeling, don’t worry, we aren’t stopping at coloring, drawing or crafting: we are also DANCING. The fire can be in your dancing, too. It is for Nikiya!

When Nikiya dances, she looks like a graceful flame.

Watch the Ballet Online

La Bayadere is a high water mark in classical ballet and, as such, it’s not 100% easy for children to consume. I share this in the event you’d like to share one piece or another with your child but I don’t rightly expect that anyone will share this with their 2-10year old and make it through two hours of high drama in toe shoes. Mind you, it’s one rousing performance and the video production is great: clear and colorful and well danced. You’ll see many characters my abridged storytelling glosses over (e.g. servants, ghosts, tigers) and you’ll see dramas here that put “Real Housewives” to shame.

All this said, the music we use to dance through the story is from the KINGDOM OF SHADES scene, beginning 1:34 and this video’s Kingdom scene is breathtaking.

Coloring Book!

Ballet Stories: Sizing them to Fit


Every so often, my dancers will return to their parents with stories form the Grand Ballet. When they do, it opens up a lot of questions. Some questions are direct, like “Where does this story come from?” Other questions might be inspired by the messenger like, “Who is Donkey Hotay?” Regardless, I’m here to help!

I’m beginning this blog to answers typical “more information” questions about the ballets I teach. It’s lovely that most of these ballets are old enough to have full videos online so I’ll offer links possible. I also hope to help explain the way I tell these stories to the children to inform how you might share these ballets with them. This culture is a precious thing to share!

Ballets are not always G-rated affairs so I alter stories to make them more accessible for the children. I report on this in our weekly emails so I won’t delve into specifics here, but I do feel a responsibility to explain that, because I’ve put softer words on the stories, the children’s understandings of them are broad and subject to interpretation—not unlike the storytelling motions of ballerinas and cavaliers (boy ballerinas). If you choose to show your children the ballets I link you to here, and I certainly hope you do, they may ask you questions and for that I’d like to offer what I can to prepare you.

I tend to tell the stories in vague terms; saying things like “then she went to a place” instead of “she died and haunted the forest.” Though, not all narrative alterations are created equal. In lieu of telling the children Basil faked his death to get Kitri’s father’s approval to marry her, I told them he respectfully asked her father’s permission. I did this because it’s preferable to give children an example of good etiquette (i.e. how to do it) than to give a bad example AND explain why it’s bad. (It’s a great scene in the ballet but I’m not in the business of teaching mischief.)  That said, I really changed the climax of this comic ballet. However, if you see the ballet, they are going to see the difference ask questions. However, they will also see that the ballets have a great deal more story to them than I can fit into our classes. So you can always say “Maybe Miss Sara didn’t have time for every detail in the story.” And if you said this, you’d always be telling the truth!

I bonded with my father and mother a great deal over ballet. They took me to productions in San Francisco and Oakland, they bought me VHS tapes (remember those) and they talked about what they saw so I always had examples of observation and recall. If you don’t enjoy ballet, that’s fine, ballet can be an acquired taste. But like movies, ballets come in different genres and I contend there’s a ballet out there for almost everyone.

I hope this is a way to learn more about your lovely child and the culture s/he is gaining from Dance with Miss Sara. I miss them each and all as I type this! I hope you’ve having a wonderful weekend!

Thank you for reading!


Miss Sara