Resources: Book Report

Educational

Balanchine The Teacher: Fundamentals That Shaped the First Generation of New York City Ballet Dancers

by Barbara Walczak and 

Una Kai

University Press of Florida

In a nutshell: An in-depth manual that sheds light on the teaching methods of George Balanchine.

Walczak and Kai, two former Balanchine students, pay homage to their beloved teacher by sharing his innovative teachings in this exhaustive book. Each recounts personal lessons learned from the ballet master, giving an inside look at how he organized and developed classes between 1940 and 1960. The material includes barre and center exercises for 24 classes, common corrections and appropriate class music. Despite the lack of visual elements, the authors manage to vividly detail his style. This guide is for all levels of teachers who wish to pass on Balanchine’s methodology to advanced students. —Courtney Rae Allen

Dance and Culture: 

An Introductory Reader 

for Middle and High 

School Levels

by Wendy Oliver

National Dance Association

In a nutshell: An insightful textbook designed to help young teens gain a general understanding of dance’s global evolution.

Oliver aims to help high school students “view dance through a cultural lens” in this classroom-friendly manual. She describes how movement traditions from around the world evolved within specific cultures, were influenced by international exposure and came to shape styles in America. (The roots of tap and jazz, for example, can be traced back to Irish step and African slave dance.) Oliver presents the material in textbook format, with bulleted lists, highlighted passages, review questions, class activities and pop references that make it easy to digest. While those wanting to delve deeper into each area will need to look elsewhere, this book is a handy resource for teachers and students seeking to understand dance in cultural rather than purely technical terms. —Kirsten Spearman

Children’s

A Dictionary of Dance

by Liz Murphy

Blue Apple Books

In a nutshell: An easy-to-read, illustrated alphabetical introduction to the fundamental elements of dance.

Murphy presents a fun and colorful way to introduce little ones to the basics of dance. She assigns a dance term to each letter of the alphabet—A for “arabesque,” B for “break dancing,” C for “choreographer,” etc.—illustrating and defining each one so that children will find it easy to grasp the concepts. A variety of dance forms, musical and stage terms and parts of the body are covered in a way that is sure to sustain the interest of budding performers—even male dancers. Murphy’s artwork features a multiethnic cast and has an appealing collage-esque, coloring-book feel. —Tracy Krisanits

Biography

Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life

by Janet Carlson

Broadway Books

In a nutshell: A touching tale about restoring life through a passion.

In this memoir, Carlson shares how her unexpected return to ballroom dance, 

after competing successfully for seven years, sparked a midlife quest for self-rediscovery, and ultimately helped her move on from a divorce and reconnect with her daughters. Through dance, she regained her confidence and realized how trust and communication are essential not only in partner dance, but in personal relationships as well. The book’s most important lesson is that having a passion can instill enthusiasm and happiness into one’s life. Carlson’s vulnerable yet   determined tone provides heartwarming inspiration for dancers and non-dancers alike. —Elizabeth Louise Hatt

Photography

Ailey Ascending: A Portrait 

in Motion

by Andrew Eccles

Chronicle Books

In a nutshell: A stunning photographic collage that combines the beauty of still life with the allure of movement as art.

With opening remarks by Artistic Director Judith Jamison and famed   playwright Anna Deavere Smith, among others, this photo book chronicles Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater over the course of its 50th anniversary year. Photographer Andrew Eccles’ images capture everything from Ailey school children to company performances of Revelations and For “Bird”—With Love. Through portraits, performance shots and behind-the-scenes looks, Eccles  highlights the beauty of the company’s dancers and the structural magnificence of their new home, the Joan Weill Center for Dance. —KS

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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