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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."

Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Cover Story
Jayme Thornton

It's a much-repeated part of Francesca Hayward's origin story that she discovered ballet at age 3, when her grandparents bought a video of The Nutcracker to keep her occupied and she immediately started dancing around the room. What's less well-known is that there was another video lined up next to The Nutcracker that Hayward liked to dance along to: Cats. "I really just did the White Cat bit and fast-forwarded the rest," she remembers. "I'd make my friends who came around be the other cats."

Twenty-four years later, she's not only become a Royal Ballet principal, but has been cast as Victoria the White Cat in Tom Hooper's new movie adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, out in theaters on December 20. "I remember the director telling me I'd got the part: 'Just to let you know you're the lead in a Hollywood film,' he said." Hayward laughs. "This is crazy!"

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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