Read these to get your creative juices flowing—or just for the juicy dance-world details.
I Was a Dancer Jacques d’Amboise; Knopf; 2011; 464 pages. Before he became a New York City Ballet principal, Jacques d’Amboise (born Joseph Ahearn) earned his keep by fighting neighborhood gangs. He later created the National Dance Institute to pass on his love of dance to kids all over the world.
Private Domain Paul Taylor; University of Pittsburgh Press; 1987; 406 pages. Read this when your pockets feel particularly empty. Taylor, now one of the most celebrated modern choreographers, once ate dog food to save money.
Dancing on My Grave Gelsey Kirkland; Doubleday; 1986; 286 pages. Kirkland’s legendary partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov, both on and off the stage, is just a subplot in this drama-filled tale. (And three years later, she wrote a sequel: The Shape of Love.)
Holding on to the Air Suzanne Farrell with Toni Bentley; University Press of Florida; 2002; 352 pages. Perhaps Balanchine’s greatest muse, ballerina Suzanne Farrell was brave enough to leave NYCB when she needed a career change—and humble enough to return, six years later.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince; Knopf Books for Young Readers; 2014; 256 pages. DePrince overcame a violent childhood in West Africa to become Dance Theatre of Harlem’s youngest principal dancer.