2022 Was a Banner Year for Books. Get These Titles on Your Shelf!

by Jill Randall

Looking at the plethora of books released in 2022, and the heft and depth of so many of them, it appears that these past few pandemic years have given many authors the time and space for creative expression, research and inquiry.

Explore the 17 remarkable titles listed here to find yourself a new book for the new year, an upcoming course, a holiday gift for a colleague or staff member, or an additional resource for your studio.

Many Interviews, Many Perspectives

Books that offer many viewpoints bring dimensionality and richness to conversations. Breadth of Bodies: Discussing Disability in Dance, by Emmaly Wiederholt and Silva Laukkanen, contains 35 interviews with disabled artists from 15 different countries. These incredible artists share their personal histories, current projects and wishes for the dance field in general.

Sue Tabashnik’s book, Patsy Swayze: Every Day, a Chance to Dance, also uses the interview format (with 29 interviews) to honor the work and impact of Patsy Swayze on her students over the years. It’s personal and commemorative of Swayze—an accomplished educator as well as mother to famous actor and dancer Patrick Swayze.

With the 30-year celebration of the Critical Response Process®, Liz Lerman and John Borstel offer Critique Is Creative: The Critical Response Process® in Theory and Action. Their voices are shared within the book alongside many essays from colleagues about the wide-ranging use of CRP in arts settings as well as community-based organizations. The essays share information about the CRP format, CRP as a
springboard, and how the guiding principles have impacted artists’ and leaders’ work over the past three decades.

Even Joshua Teal’s new take on the dance coffee-table book, Dance Vision: Dance Through the Eyes of Today’s Artists, includes 50 artists from around the world who use photography, 2-D art and sculpture to celebrate dance and the moving body. Readers will enjoy the wide-ranging art and the windows into the visual artists’ love and curiosity of the dancing body with the descriptions of the artists amongst the artwork.

Brave First-Person Accounts

In contrast to the first four titles on this 2022 book list, the next three embrace the first-person perspective.

Misty Copeland fans will delight in her November release of The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor Raven Wilkinson (with Susan Fales-Hill). Copeland shares the journey of meeting dance idol Raven Wilkinson and the development of their friendship and mentorship. Wilkinson was a trailblazer and the first Black ballerina to secure a major dance contract, dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Dancer Chasta Hamilton expands on her 2021 TEDx talk to offer a motivational new book, Handle the Horrible: Change. Triage. Joy. Using art as a lens, inspiration and metaphor, Hamilton shares her own journey through hardship both early in childhood and recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. A dancer, entrepreneur and studio owner, Hamilton uses art as the means to seek optimism, develop confidence and handle

Another first-person publication this year was Annie-B Parson’s The Choreography of Everyday Life. This quick read invites us to peek into the choreographic mind of Annie-B and what catches her attention. We read about daily musings, dance and otherwise. Like books by Susan Rethorst and Deborah Hay, The Choreography of Everyday Life is a small glimpse into the creative mind of an acclaimed contemporary artist of our time.

Penning New Biographies and Excavating Dance History

Three substantial books in 2022 make gifts for serious ballet lovers. Jennifer Homans’ new book, Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, is the culmination of a decade of research with over 100 interviews. Through accessible writing, Homans covers George Balanchine’s upbringing in Russia, arrival to the U.S., and his epic and prolific life in ballet. The book is 614 pages long, plus 117 pages for the bibliography and notes—a major offering for the ballet community.

Balanchine dancer Toni Bentley released her sixth book, Serenade: A Balanchine Story, this year. A deep dive into Balanchine’s masterwork, Bentley artfully uses the ballet as a map to navigate and remember her own memories as a means to honor Balanchine’s artistry. From “Turnout” to “The Great Run” to “Hopping,” Bentley invites us back into this iconic choreography.

Additionally, Rupert Christiansen’s Diaghilev’s Empire: How the Ballets Russes Enthralled the World came together this year as we celebrate 150 years since Diaghilev’s birth. His vision for a new kind of ballet company, and the development of the Ballets Russes, changed the look and course of ballet on a global level.

As for exploring modern dance, seasoned biographer Neil Baldwin took on the task of a new biography of Martha Graham, the first one in three decades. Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern details her personal and professional life, iconic works, passion and loneliness.

The last new book of note in the dance history category is Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Lindsay Guarino, Carlos R.A. Jones and Wendy Oliver). Jazz, ballet and modern teachers alike should read this book, as it’s one of the most important books for educators to sit with, reflect upon and discuss in the coming year. Rooted Jazz Dance tackles appropriation and the white lens of jazz dance. The book discusses companies, pedagogy, choreography and more.
Educators will find that it’s time to unlearn and then relearn the roots of jazz dance, and delve into Africanist aesthetics and the rich African American history of the form. It’s a must-read for dance educators who are striving towards racial equity in dance.

Robust New Textbooks: Somatics, Site-Specific Dance, Psychology and Dynamic Imagery

These four titles are textbooks for undergraduate and graduate classes, and of course are great reads for dance educators’ personal growth, as well.

In her fourth book, somatic leader Andrea Olsen’s Moving Between Worlds: A Guide to Embodied Living and Communicating explores the broad topic of communication. She frames the book through 31 days of movement and writing activities, with artful essays on topics such as perception, authenticity and interconnectivity.

Choreographer Stephan Koplowitz offers On Site: Methods for Site-Specific Performance Creation as the definitive new textbook on site-based work. He meticulously covers the logistics and artistic mindset needed for site-specific projects. Koplowitz lovingly shares his process from decades in the field, including staging large-scale site-specific works around the globe.

With so few books available on dance psychology specifically, author Sanna Nordin-Bates published the first textbook, Essentials of Dance Psychology. Dance psychology both enhances performance and well-being for movers. This hefty textbook covers many topics, from personality to perfectionism and anxiety to motivation.

Lastly, Eric Franklin updated his book, Dynamic Alignment through Imagery, now in its third edition. With over 600 exercises and 500 illustrations, this generous offering allows for a deep experiential dive within a course or on your own.

And a Few Audiobooks

While audiobooks are plentiful for novels and memoirs, dance-specific audiobooks are still being developed. This format is a wonderful way to engage with books while commuting, cooking or even during your post-class stretching routine.

Eva Draw’s 2019 On a Personal Note…The World of Ballet and Beyond Through the Eyes of a Dancer, Teacher, and Educator is now available as an audiobook. Draw shares her path growing up in Russia and attending the Bolshoi Ballet School, dancing professionally, and then transitioning into a career in dance education. Draw currently teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Her book is narrated by Tandy Cronyn.

In addition, five of the books noted above are also available as audiobooks, with the added delight of the authors reading several of these titles. Check out:

The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor Raven Wilkinson, by Misty Copeland (with Susan Fales-Hill)

Serenade: A Balanchine Story, by Toni Bentley

Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern, by Neil Baldwin

Handle the Horrible: Change. Triage. Joy, by Chasta Hamilton

Breadth of Bodies: Discussing Disability in Dance, by Emmaly Wiederholt and Silva Laukkanen

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