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Boost Your Bookshelf With These Four New Dance Picks

Jill Randall

Has the pandemic given you more time to do all that dance reading you've always dreamed of?

Enter these four new releases, each of note for its in-depth exploration of the art form and its engaging, artful storytelling.


Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad

The cover of Dance Adventures, featuring three women in colorful costumes from different dance genres

Jill Randall

Edited by Megan Taylor Morrison

306 pages; MTM Coaching and Consulting (2020)

Keywords: Travel, first-person accounts, curiosity, dance around the world

Check it out if: You, too, have dreams of traveling the world to study dance, whether it is exploring your own cultural heritage or following a particular style to its origins. Dance Adventures offers stories from 19 dancers who traveled to 17 different countries, including Senegal, the Philippines, Cuba and China. The essays are relatively short in length and are highly accessible; Dance Adventures is a great option for dancers in high school, college and beyond.

The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970–1976

The cover image of Grand Union, featuring a black and white image of dancers at the top and green text on a white background

Jill Randall

By Wendy Perron

384 pages; Wesleyan University Press (2020)

Keywords: Improvisation, postmodern dance, contact improv

Check it out if: You are interested in improvisation, or any of the core members of Grand Union, such as Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. Perron documents the formation of the group, highlighting each artist with great care and describing archival videos in detail. You'll hear from Grand Union members, their contemporaries and dancers influenced by the work of this group during its six-year existence.

Moving Lessons: Margaret H'Doubler and the Beginning of Dance in American Education (Second Edition)

The cover of Moving Lessons, featuring a black and white photo of a woman dancing outside with a large hula hoop-type prop

Jill Randall

By Janice L. Ross

328 pages; University Press of Florida (2020)

Keywords: Dance in higher education, first dance-degree program in the U.S., skeleton and anatomy as foundation, John Dewey's philosophy

Check it out if: You teach in higher ed or aspire to be a college professor, or are curious about the lineage of dance from physical education. Ross' second edition deepens our knowledge of Margaret H'Doubler, who founded the first dance-degree program in the U.S. in 1926 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ross also explores the influence of educational philosopher John Dewey on H'Doubler's pedagogy, as well as her use of a skeleton as a core component in her classes.

Daniel Lewis: A Life in Choreography and the Art of Dance

The cover of the book, featuring a black and white photo of Lewis jumping

Jill Randall

By Donna H. Krasnow and Daniel E. Lewis

239 pages; McFarland (2020)

Keywords: José Limón, Juilliard, New World School of the Arts, long dance career

Check it out if: You are a Limón Company fan or modern dance history buff who loves a journey through the life of an artist. Krasnow recounts Lewis' career over many decades, which included time as a student and then a faculty member at Juilliard, touring the world with José Limón and then setting Limón's work, directing his own company, and becoming the first dean of dance at the New World School of the Arts. Notes and quotes from colleagues are woven throughout the book.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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