What You Should Read in 2019, According to Your Favorite Dancers

Made a resolution to read more books this year? Or maybe just looking for a new source of fuel for your artistry? We asked eight dancers about their favorite books in our Spotlight series, and their answers ranged from cheeky novels to biographies to cookbooks.

So whip out your library card (or your Kindle) and dive into the books that inspire these artists:


Dutch National Ballet's Michaela DePrince 

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: "This book has helped me with so many things, like who I want to be as an artist."

Commercial choreographer James Alsop

A Day Late and A Dollar Short by Terry McMillan: "I have probably read it 6000 times."

Tap dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher

Deep in A Dream by James Gavin: "I love reading biographies and learning how people became the humans/artists we know them to be."

The Washington Ballet's Ashley Murphy

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: "It's been my fave since I was a kid!"

B-girl and choreographer Ephrat Asherie

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: "I read it once every two years or so."

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Leta Biasucci

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: "She is a brilliant and hilarious Seattle author."

Martha Graham Dance Company's PeiJu Chien-Pott

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer: "The book is so useful—there's not only recipes but Western dining etiquette which is fascinating for me."

Miami City Ballet's Nathalia Arja

The Shack by William P. Young: "I'm always recommending it to people."

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020