Angelina Ballerina: Ballet Dreams is a new five-episode DVD that finds the little mouseling in a new home, new school, and making new friends. She and her family, which includes her mother and father and little sister Polly, still live in Chipping Cheddar, but everything else has changed in young Angelina’s life.
In “Angelina’s New Home” Angelina just wants to have a regular Saturday, but since the family has moved, everything has changed. Angelina is worried about attending her new school, the Camembert Academy, but as her little sister Polly points out, maybe the new neighborhood isn’t so bad after all. Angelina continues to adjust to her new surroundings in “Angelina’s New Ballet Teacher.” Angelina has always been a bit of a prima donna, like any great aspiring ballerina should be, so it is hard for her to let go of being the center of attention. Her new teacher Miss Mimi likes jazz and is distinctly unlike her former teacher Miss Lilly. Angelina will need to stretch beyond her memories, but will a jazz-loving teacher be able to teach her to do a grand jeté?
Angelina is excited in “Angelina En Pointe” for the chance to audition for the Mouskinov Ballet, but she’s never danced en pointe. Miss Mimi gently suggests that she should be ready to audition in a few years, but Angelina is never one to not want to be the shining star. It’s actually nice that the cartoon addresses the fact that ballet is not easy and requires years of practice, hard work, training, and even physical pain, as Angelina’s feet experience toe shoes for the first time.
As Angelina becomes more and more comfortable with her new friends and school, her little sister Polly sees her excitement and decides that she wants to learn ballet in “Angelina’s Ballet School.” Angelina and her old friend Alice open their own “school” to teach the little one. Does Angelina have the patience required to be a teacher? Finally, in “Angelina and the New Music Store” we see the family business and get to meet the neighbors. Angelina’s father is going to run the local music store and Angelina wants to plan a grand opening party, complete with a concert and music played by her friends, new and old. The only problem is that next-door neighbor Mrs. Thimble isn’t fond of loud noises and Polly keeps trying to butt into the party plans to play a lullaby on her new recorder. Angelina must find a way to make everyone happy.
I have to admit that I missed the old-style animation of the original series, which looked more like the book illustrations by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig. The author and illustrator are creative consultants on the new CG-animated series, including the designs, scripts and music. But the original quirkiness of the lead character and the charm of her surroundings are still here, and there are even some improvements. The older series wasn’t as focused on interactive activity, with episodes that played more like picture book stories come to life. The new Angelina Ballerina series definitely encourages dancing, as both an art and a physical activity, and has songs and music interspersed throughout each episode.
A very nice DVD extra is a “Dance with Angelina” feature, similar to the one on the website, where kids can choreograph three dance moves – pirouette, arabesque, and grand jeté and dance along with Angelina. This is absolutely great, and my daughter was still practicing her moves long after we switched off the DVD. It also ensures that when she watches some of these episodes again, and I am very sure she will, that she will be dancing along.