When there\’s a \”top 10 favorite\” books, in my world there is also a list of favorite dance books. The fact remains that I just really like books and probably needed to go far beyond the number 10 when making a list of this nature. Well, at least 10 makes for a good start and here are the books about dance that I love and regularly share with friends and colleagues:
1. Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren. This one is a must-have for ballet students and instructors. All the important turns, jumps, etc. are broken down frame by frame in some amazing photos. And you see some really awesome dancers (many of whom you will recognize) demonstrating technique. It is possible to spend hours skimming through this book and it makes such an excellent reference tool for schools and studios.
2. Holding On to the Air: An Autobiography by Suzanne Farrell. I was twelve the first time I read Farrell\’s autobiography and I stayed up late every night as I voraciously absorbed tales of the world of my ballet \”hero.\” It only made me admire her more.
3. Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance by Eric Franklin. Aside from work in the studio, this book provides some of the best tools I have found for taking performance and technique to the next level.
4. Dance Anatomy by Jaqui Green Haas. The illustrations in this anatomy book for dancers are really helpful. I wish my instructors had had a similar teaching aid when I was younger because our knowledge of anatomy was so spotty until I reached high school biology.
5. Dancing on my Grave by Gelsey Kirkland. Maybe not so appropriate at times for younger readers, Kirkland\’s autobiography is gritty and real. It\’s an honest narrative of what she experienced in the world of dance (good and bad) and can also serve as a cautionary tale for up and coming dancers.
6. Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter. Jordan Matter captured some really wonderful photos of dancers doing their extraordinary things in ordinary situations. In fact, I\’m pretty sure most dancers have been tempted to do the very same things while crossing the street and possibly have! Highly recommended as a gift or a coffee table book for yourself.
7. Ear Training for the Body by Katherine Teck. Teck really uses her expertise as an accompanist to bridge the gap between dancers and musicians in this excellent resource. She very kindly spared dancers the music theory aspect of education but prepared us for an intelligent and effective conversation with any musicians with whom we may be working.
8. 101 Stories of the Great Ballets by George Balanchine and Francis Mason. I used to read this like a book of fairy tales as a youngster. The volume is a great reference book for dancers and ballet enthusiasts. It is fun to read about ballets which are seldom performed… and might inspire reviving some classics.
9. The Creative Habit by Twila Tharp. Twila Tharp is one of my favorite choreographers and so when this book was released I jumped at the chance to glean some wisdom from a master. Tharp does not disappoint. She gives exercises or prompts to help make creativity a constant in our lives.
10. Liz Lerman\’s Critical Response Process. Liz Lerman is another person whom I admire. (And actually got to meet once long ago) I love this book because as artists it is incredibly simple to be too close to the creative process or too involved in it to see the product clearly. Obtaining criticism and acting upon it are excellent skills to hone and Lerman provides the tools to be a good critical thinker and facilitator.
That\’s my top 10! Are there any books I may have missed? I\’d love to read your suggestions. Just leave me a note in the comment section below.