Just for Fun

The Well-Read Dancer: What's On Isabella Boylston's Bookshelf?

Isabella Boylston in La Bayadère. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Looking for a good summer read (or several)? Dance Magazine has got you covered. So many of our favorite dance artists are secret (or not-so-secret) bookworms that we decided to ask them for recommendations—and where better to start than American Ballet Theatre principal and #BallerinaBookClub leader Isabella Boylston? She dished about the books she keeps on her nightstand, what she reads when she's in need of a little inspiration (hint: She's big into fantasy) and more.


What are you reading now?

I'm currently reading Shoe Dog, the autobiography of Nike's founder Phil Knight. Before that I read the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante, which was stunningly amazing.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

One of my favorite books is The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lingren. It's pretty heavy for a children's book, but it's so beautiful. I also read a lot of Nancy Drew, and Little House on the Prairie.

What is your go-to read for inspiration?

The Name of The Wind, Zen in the Art of Archery and any autobiography, especially by artists or entrepreneurs.

What books are on your nightstand?

There's a good stack there. What I Loved, Educated (which is the most recent book for my Ballerina Book Club!), Grit, My Life on the Road, and an autobiography by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer Vera Zorina that a friend gave me.

What is the longest book you’ve ever read?

Probably some of the books from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson.

Is there a book that you keep picking up but haven’t been able to finish?

Crime and Punishment.

What book has influenced you most as a dancer?

Irina Baronova's autobiography is probably my favorite dancer biography. I love the way she writes. Her incredible, vibrant spirit really shines through and she tells the most incredible stories about touring with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I also feel that I've been really inspired by a lot of the fantasy and sci-fi that I've read. Anything that sparks the imagination can help you to create a world onstage.

Do you read as research for specific roles?

Whenever the ballet is based off a book, I turn to the original source—for example, Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. I go through and highlight anything I want to use. It's fun and incredibly helpful to give yourself lines or key words. I read Jane Eyre this spring in preparation for the ballet. I also enjoyed reading Apollo's Angels and learning about the origins of several older ballets.

What book have you reread the most?

Harry Potter!

Curious about another dance artist's bookshelf? Let us know who we should talk to next in the comments.

Broadway
Courtesy Macy's, Inc.

As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?

This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.

Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:

Keep reading... Show less
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:

Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave
Sergei Polunin. Photo by British Broadcasting Corporation and Polunin Ltd., Courtesy Sundance Selects.

Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)

I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox