Recommended: Fosse

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

736 pages, $32

Sam Wasson’s biography of dance legend Bob Fosse is the first to be written in 25 years, researched with unprecedented access to the Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon Collection at the Library of Congress and supplemented by over 300 interviews with some of Fosse’s closest friends—and all contained within a hefty 736 pages. But with a past as colorful as that of the man who choreographed iconic shows Sweet Charity, Pippin and Chicago, how could it be anything less?

Wasson doesn’t cut corners when it comes to creating a three-dimensional portrait of Fosse, a man considered by most to be, by turns, a genius, workaholic, devoted father and insatiable ladies’ man. His description of the dance auditions for Pippin detail not only the tried-and-true advice whispered among the women to “tease [their] hair way up” and “use eyeliner” to attract his attention but also Fosse’s deep sincerity and regret when he needed to cut dancers—which he did one by one, with words of appreciation for their time and effort. It’s an unflinchingly honest book, and a choreographer as revered as Fosse deserves every page.

 
Teacher Voices
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In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

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Health & Body
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Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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