My Top Twenty Dance Books
These are my personal favorites collated after many years of
reading and collecting. If it has an asterisk next to it that
means it's out of print. Out-of-print books can be found in college
libraries, secondhand bookstores, flea markets, etc. For books that
are not out of print, simply click onto
to get more information on the book, as far as ordering, cost, publisher,
Creative Dance for All
Ages: A Conceptual Approach, by Ann Green Gilbert. Founder
of Kaleidoscope, a children's professional modern dance company based
in Seattle, this book is an excellent intro. to her philosophy of
teaching dance through concepts rather than steps or techniques. In
addition to lesson plans, even has musical suggestions!
- Gretchen Ward Warren's books. Highly recommended to me, although
I've only browsed through them myself. Check it out good ballet
teaching books are very difficult to find. I know because I've read
a lot of them, and find many of them impractical.
- The Illustrated Dance Technique of José Limón, by Daniel D. Lewis.
A good, illustrated guide to Limón technique, with good background
ESSAYS, BIOGRAPHIES & REVIEW COLLECTIONS
- Balanchine: A Biography, by Bernard Taper. The best, most
thorough biography of this major ballet figure.
- Days on Earth: The Dance of Doris Humphrey, by Marcia
B. Siegel. A must-read for anyone interested in early modern dance
history. Marcia Siegel is one of the best dance writers around...
she makes this an unforgettable story of a truly courageous person
- Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance, by Jennifer Dunning.
From a poor, rural childhood in Texas to the very pinnacle of
the dance world, this amazing story of this troubled giant of
modern dance is told by the NY Times dance critic J. Dunning.
- Once a Dancer, by Allegra Kent. What a life. Prima
ballerina under Balanchine by age 16, mother of 3 by age 23, penniless
by age 50... this is the incredible story of a true artist and survivor.
- American Indian Ballerinas, by Lili C. Livingston.
Tells the tale of the famous 4 Native American ballerinas, all from
Oklahoma sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower,
and Yvonne Chouteau.
- How to Dance Forever: Surviving Against the Odds, by
Daniel Nagrin. One of the few career "how to"
books, this books is both a biography (Nagrin was an early pioneer
in modern dance, along with doing important work in jazz and
on Broadway) and contains practical advice on health, injuries,
career questions and philosophical/spiritual issues.
- *Afterimages, by Arlene Croce. A top dance critic
gathers her reviews from the 60's and 70's into a very entertaining
JAZZ, ETHNIC AND WORLD DANCE; SPECIAL TOPICS AND REFERENCE
The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole, by Glenn Loney. An excellent
story of this famous figure in jazz dance, who started his career
in modern dance and landed up in Hollywood!
- Dance: Rituals of Experience, by Jamake Highwater.
This book generally covers world dance, but more specifically
covers the relationship between dance and world cultures, incorporating
myth, storytelling, ritual and spirituality. Very interesting
and thought provoking, especially for those interested in anthropology,
history, religion or psychology.
- Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet, 3rd
Ed. by Gail Grant. Excellent reference which covers all ballet
terminology and steps. Some illustrations.
GENERAL DANCE HISTORY, including BALLET
- Ballet and Modern Dance, by Jack Anderson. An overview
of dance history (mostly Western) since the Renaissance. Good pictures.
Not heavy reading, this book is often used as a intro. dance text
in college courses.
- History of the Dance in Art and Education, by Richard
Hilsendager, and Brenda Dixon. This book is the third edition, I'm not
sure. Similar to above book, but goes back to pre-literate cultures
and also covers non-Western dance, I believe.
HISTORY: MODERN AND POST-MODERN DANCE
- The Vision of Modern Dance: In the Words of Its Creators,
editors Jean Morrison Brown, Naomi Mindlin, and Charles H. Woodford.
A compendium of essays by the great pioneers of early U.S. (and European)
modern dance Duncan, Graham, Humphrey and others. Expressed
in their own words, this book expresses the aesthetic range and richness
of these early artist.
- *Complete Guide to Modern Dance, by Don McDonagh.
An exhaustive, yet entertaining compendium of modern dance choreographers,
a brief bio of each one, and a chronological list of their works.
Excellent reference book.
- Terpsichore in Sneakers, by Sally Banes. A
very readable history of post-modern dance and dancers by an
eminent expert in that area.
- *Further Steps: Fifteen Choreographers on Modern Dance,
by Connie Kreemer. Similar
to The Vision of Modern Dance, but this book features
interviews with contemporary post-modern choreographers. Very
in-depth and readable.
- Pina Bausch-Wuppertal Dance Theater, by Norbert Servos.
May only be available in Europe, this book is a real find. It is an
in-depth account of Germany's mother of "tanztheatre", a
new form which arose in Germany and is popular throughout Europe.
This features massive sets, singing, improv. In other words, it combines
many theatrical elements into a powerful experience. Excellent photos.
P.S. I acknowledge that these books are from the perspective
of the United States. I'm sure that there are many good books
available abroad and also in other languages.
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