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

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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 

Via Amazon; Angela Sterling via dnb.org

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

Via Amazon; via Facebook

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

Tap dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher

Sally Cohn, courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates; via Goodreads

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

Via Amazon; Theo Kossenas

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

B-girl and choreographer Ephrat Asherie

Christopher Duggan; via Amazon

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

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Leta Biasucci

Lindsay Thomas; via Amazon

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

Martha Graham Dance Company's PeiJu Chien-Pott

Via Pinterest; via NYC Dance Project

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

Via Wikipedia; Alexander Iziliaev

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

Health & Body
Gettty Images

It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.

Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.

It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?

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Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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What Dancers Eat
Lindsay Thomas

Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

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News
Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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