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Robert Abrams
Arts and Education

Angelina Ballerina - Ballet Dreams DVD

by Robert Abrams
May 7, 2011
I finally had time to review the Angelina Ballerina - Ballet Dreams DVD. I started watching the DVD a month or more ago, but my daughter, who was a little over 2 years old at the time and is now about 2 and a half, wanted to watch something else. She used to like Angelina Ballerina a lot, but now is mostly interested in Dora and Diego (she will often dance to the opening theme songs of these shows).

Angelina shouldn't feel bad. My daughter used to watch Dinosaur Train all the time, and now never watches it. You learn to be flexible in your viewing when you have a two year old.

For the most part, I like the Angelina Ballerina videos. They tell stories in which characters are confronted with real problems. The characters learn and grow as they try to find solutions. There is solid, sensible advice in among the cheese pie too, such as don't rush to go en pointe until your body is strong enough. And unlike with Dora and Diego, the solutions are all ones that kids could actually try, like singing a lullaby to help a neighbor fall asleep: no magical backpacks in Mouseland.

One thing is a little odd about this DVD, at least if you have already seen Angelina Ballerina - Love To Dance. That DVD introduced Angelina to her new school, her first day of classes and new friends. Angelina Ballerina - Ballet Dreams' first two episodes cover this ground again, only this time things happen a little differently. It is like being in one of those Star Trek episodes in which you experience branching universes where slightly different choices have been made. There is nothing exactly wrong with this new version of events, and there are lessons to be learned that are different from the earlier DVD, but I think Love To Dance did a better job of introducing the new characters. And there is also the issue of how Angelina is in a new part of town, and therefore separated from her old friend Alice, and then suddenly in later episodes, she and Alice are often together as if the distance is no longer a problem. Maybe Alice moved across town too, or maybe Chipping Cheddar started a new crosstown bus service. But I quibble - perfect continuity across multiple episodes is not critical in a show like this.

The episode "Angelina En Pointe" does a good job of teaching something specific about dance. "Angelina's Ballet School" is on point (pun intended) when it comes to talking about sibling relations. "Angelina and the New Music Store" shows how people have to coexist in a neighborhood. So on balance (pun also intended), Angelina Ballerina - Ballet Dreams includes enough strong material to be worth purchasing.

There is also a bonus feature where you can choose from three dance steps to arrange them in a sequence, and then play your finished choreography. This makes good use of the limited interactivity available with a DVD, but it does make me wonder what might be possible with more sophisticated software that didn't force the dance to return to the same neutral position in between each step.

For more information, go to www.AngelinaBallerina.com.
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