Summer Reading: From Studio to Pen and Paper
We’re so used to watching dancers that to read about them can mean a shift in one’s approach. Yet three new books—by Anabella Lenzu, Douglas Dunn, and Ralph Lemon—highlight the strengths of these dance artists’ writing. There’s both movement and insight in each volume.
In Unveiling Motion and Emotion, Anabella Lenzu chronicles her work as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher, including anecdotes that take place in the countless European cities she has taught class (sometimes teaching in two or three a day). Most inspiring is a list of the lessons she’s learned from dance (“To witness small miracles,” “To embrace change,” “To celebrate life.”) Extra bonus: The book is in Spanish as well as English.
The delightful Douglas Dunn has just released Dancer Out of Sight, a collection of poems, anecdotes, drawings and letters. It offers an in-depth view into the choreographer’s creative process and life. One such story recounts his time dancing for Merce Cunningham, including his advice for deep pliés: “Go down and up like an elevator.” Also included is the “Why I Choreograph” he wrote for Dance Magazine.
Come home Charley Patton is Ralph Lemon’s fragmentary compilation, comprising a variety of forms. His letters about encounters with racism are juxtaposed with drawings of figures of black culture such as Nina Simone, James Baldwin and Jimi Hendrix. The book also includes a personal timeline (writing came before dancing) and descriptions of some of Lemon’s works with detailed annotations. In his interview in the April issue of Dance Magazine, he mentions this book, the third in a trilogy. —Jay Oatis