Recommended: 4 Editor's Picks

Shapes of American Ballet: Teachers and Training Before Balanchine

By Jessica Zeller

Oxford University Press; 216 pages; $35

Calling all balletomanes! Texas Christian University dance professor Jessica Zeller sheds light on an often neglected piece of American dance history: the presence of American ballet from 1909 to 1934, prior to George Balanchine's arrival. Learn about trailblazers like Russian dancer Mikhail Mordkin, whose NYC-based company Mordkin Ballet laid the groundwork for American Ballet Theatre.

Little Miss Dancey Pants

By Kourtni Mason; illustrated by

Sharad Kumar

AuthorHouse; 25 pages; $13.99

Former professional dancer Kourtni Mason encourages kids ages 3–6 to follow their dreams in Little Miss Dancey Pants, the story of Addison, an African-American girl who loves to dance and finds a role model right under her nose.

Merce Cunningham: Beyond the Perfect Stage

By Stephanie Berger

Damiani; 96 pages; $50

Photographer Stephanie Berger captures the architectural beauty of the late Merce Cunningham's choreography during a series of site-specific “Events" from 2008 to 2011. Featured dancers include: Holley Farmer, Silas Riener, Rashaun Mitchell, Robert Swinston and Melissa Toogood.

Dance Production: Design and Technology

By Jeromy Hopgood

Focal Press; 294 pages; $44.95

Eastern Michigan University professor Jeromy Hopgood simplifies the process of staging a dance production with this new manual. Learn how to tackle pre-production planning, lighting, sound, sets, costumes, technology and stage management from the perspective of what works best for dance.

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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