Books/DVDs: Gender Studies

Equipoise: The Life and Work of Alfredo Corvino
By Dawn Lille
Dance and Movement Press

In a nutshell: The teaching wisdom of Alfredo Corvino.

Alfredo Corvino sprinkled his teaching with a special brand of whimsy and gentle humor. But behind the humor was his drive to instill both the technical and aesthetic understanding for artistry. Dawn Lille captures these qualities, and Corvino’s pervasive humanity, in her biography of this master ballet teacher. In the book’s forward, Dominique Mercy, of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, thanks Corvino for helping her understand the human body’s mechanics, musicality and dynamics of movement, but laments she has one thing yet to learn from him: “how to travel with such a small suitcase, no matter where and for how long!” This attribute characterizes Lille’s depiction of Corvino as a man whose only “baggage” in the classroom was his wisdom, knowledge and the joy he took in teaching dance. Lille’s reverence for Corvino guides her meticulous documentation of his colorful life and career through the first eight chapters, with a detailed account of the influences that helped shape his unique integration of the Cecchetti technique. Chapters 9 through 11 provide readers with the specifics of his teaching methodology, from the barre through center work. The book’s engaging photographs illuminate his personality and artistry, and illustrations further explain his technical theories. While more vivid storytelling would have added to this book, what emerges is a loving portrait and insightful representation of this special man’s gift to the dance world. —Lynn Colburn Shapiro

Stigma and Perseverance in the Lives of Boys Who Dance: An Empirical Study of Male Identities in Western Theatrical Dance Training
By Doug Risner
The Edwin Mellen Press

In a nutshell: An investigation of male pre-professional dance training and education in the United States.

In his “wake-up” call to dance educators, Doug Risner sheds light on the age-old mystery of what attracts (and keeps) males in dance. Risner incorporates his own story, along with personal narratives from 75 danseurs to help readers better understand what is really occurring in the minds of young boys in dance classes nationwide. Most importantly, he challenges dance educators to develop more realistic strategies for recruiting male students, rather than relying on stereotypical “masculine” tactics, and to improve dance-training conditions for boy dancers. The book’s six heavily researched chapters discuss issues such as homosexuality, including males’ sensitivity to gendered criticism and why the balance between heterosexuals and homosexuals in dance is disproportionate; the importance of a strong support system for male dancers; and the Western notion that concert dance is a female activity. Although its tone is academic, this book is an essential resource for those with a connection to pre-professional male dancers. —Rachel Zar

When Men Dance: Choreographing Masculinities Across Borders
Edited by Jennifer Fisher and Anthony Shay
Oxford University Press

In a nutshell: Scholarly selections that address men’s obstacles and challenges as dance artists.

This anthology evolved out of a panel on dance and masculinity presented at the annual Congress on Research in Dance meeting in 2006. The diverse essays unfold an analytical debate of why men dance. Leading and up-and-coming dance scholars revisit and overturn historical theories, common stereotypes and prejudices often associated with gender in dance, relating to men’s obstacles and challenges as dance artists. Compiled by dance professors Jennifer Fisher and Anthony Shay, the study proposes ways of widening the definition of gender performance, especially rethinking the “making it macho” strategy. While mainly focusing on concert dance, as well as global popular and classical dance forms, the book does briefly explore social and spectacle dance as they relate to masculinity. The essays are enlivened by stories of male dancers from established artists, like Donald McKayle, to those lesser known. Through these personal accounts, teachers will learn ways to help male students rise above the challenges, fears, insecurities and ridicule men face as dancers.   —Courtney Rae Allen

News
Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

Since 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have celebrated the living legends of our field—from Martha Graham to Misty Copeland to Alvin Ailey to Gene Kelly.

This year is no different. But for the first time ever, the Dance Magazine Awards will be presented virtually—which is good news for aspiring dancers (and their teachers!) everywhere. (Plus, there's a special student rate of $25.)

The Dance Magazine Awards aren't just a celebration of the people who shape the dance field—they're a unique educational opportunity and a chance for dancers to see their idols up close.

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Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

The term "body shaming" might bring up memories of that instructor from your own training who made critical remarks about—or even poked and prodded—dancers' bodies.

Thankfully, we're (mostly) past the days when authority figures felt free to openly mock a dancer's appearance. But body shaming remains a toxic presence in the studio, says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, psychologist for Atlanta Ballet: "It's just more hidden and more subtle." Here's how to make sure your teaching isn't part of the problem.

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