Great news! It’s National Book Lover’s Day, and Dance Teacher is here to recommend some seriously fabulous books to you. Since it’s the 9th of the month, we thought we would curate a list of some of our 9 favorite dancey books. They’re just what you need to celebrate the holiday in the most dance-centric way possible!!
1. Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir
By Finis Jhung
2018; Ballet Dynamics, Inc.; $24.75
Ballet legend Finis Jhung takes readers from his childhood in World Ward II Honolulu, to his professional career on Broadway and with the Joffrey Ballet and Harkness Ballet companies, to his enduring role as educator and mentor. He even includes his recent recovery from hip surgery at age 80. The book is like flipping through pages of Jhung’s personal scrapbook and journal. “Through this collection of photos and the memories they recall, I realize how fortunate I am to be who I am,” Jhung writes.
2. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
By Brené Brown
2012; Avery; $13.59
Brené Brown’s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” has been viewed more than 30 million times. “Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable,” writes the University of Houston research professor in her best-selling book Daring Greatly, a must-read for dance artists and studio owners looking to take their careers to the next level. “Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness.”
3. A Unicorn in a World of Donkeys: A Guide to Life for All the Exceptional, Excellent Misfits Out There
By Mia Michaels
2018; Seal Press; $27
“Every time I was knocked down, I got back up and found my unicorn horn—the mark of being different, magical, unmatched—got a little longer and thicker,” writes Mia Michaels in her new book. “Many times in the last 30 years of my professional life, I’ve wondered, ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ But in my heart, I always knew that the unconventional life was my only option, however terrifying it can be.” Michaels’ candor and unique path motivate you to embrace your own inner misfit.
4. Dance and Gender: An Evidence-Based Approach
By Wendy Oliver and Doug Risner
2017; University Press of Florida; $24.95
As teachers, we have firsthand experience of dance’s gender dynamics. Dance and Gender takes this perspective a step further by academically analyzing the gendered origins of issues like funding inequalities, typecasting, body-image insecurities and stereotypes found in the dance world.
5. Big Deal: Bob Fosse and Dance in the American Musical (Broadway Legacies)
By Kevin Winkler
2018; Oxford University Press; $29.95
Take a walk down memory lane with Big Deal, a biography/history of the late dancer, choreographer, director and screenwriter Bob Fosse. In this book, we get the evolution of one of the most innovative choreographers of all time from the perspective of critics, audiences and historians. The author paints a picture of the things that impacted both Fosse’s career and dance aesthetic, including his early dance years with mentors Jerome Robbins and George Abbot, as well as his time spent with important women in his adult life, like Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking.
6. Dancing into My Bolshoi Dream: A Vision that Turns into Reality
By Anna Duvall
2017; independently published; $11
The notoriously demanding dance training found in Russian ballet schools has been a topic of fascination for dance teachers, dancers and dance lovers alike. To feed our obsession is Anna Duvall’s new memoir about becoming one of the first Americans to ever study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. She candidly describes her experience as a 15-year-old who discovers what it takes to train at one of the most celebrated ballet academies in the world.
7. Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet
By Laura Jacobs
2018; Basic Books; $27
Whether a longtime dance enthusiast or a new superfan, you’ll enjoy reading Laura Jacobs’ perspective on classical dance. Contributing editor at Vanity Fair and dance critic for The New Criterion, she’s seen countless performances over her career. Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet combines technical definitions with descriptions of performances as an engaging introduction to the mystery of ballet. Jacobs shares her enthusiasm for the art and her expert point of view in this informative and entertaining book.
8. And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove
By Henry Alford 2018; Simon & Schuster; $26
Enjoy a charming look into the world of dance through the eyes of Henry Alford, a dance newcomer turned superfan. After taking his first Zumba class while on assignment as a contributor to The New York Times, Alford fell in love with dance and dove headfirst into studying a wide range of styles, from ballet to swing. Through personal experience and cultural dance history, Alford shares a witty perspective on movement and how it expresses the human experience.
9. Ballet for Life: Exercises and Inspiration from the World of Ballet Beautiful
By Mary Helen Bowers 2017; Rizzoli; $27.16
Former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers used her experience as a dancer to create Ballet Beautiful, a fitness program inspired by ballet. In this book, she describes her program and how to incorporate length, good posture and grace into a fitness routine in order to achieve a ballerina’s body. In addition to proper technique for exercises, she offers wellness tips, fashion and beauty advice.