Resources: Book Report

Educational

Balanchine The Teacher: Fundamentals That Shaped the First Generation of New York City Ballet Dancers

by Barbara Walczak and 

Una Kai

University Press of Florida

In a nutshell: An in-depth manual that sheds light on the teaching methods of George Balanchine.

Walczak and Kai, two former Balanchine students, pay homage to their beloved teacher by sharing his innovative teachings in this exhaustive book. Each recounts personal lessons learned from the ballet master, giving an inside look at how he organized and developed classes between 1940 and 1960. The material includes barre and center exercises for 24 classes, common corrections and appropriate class music. Despite the lack of visual elements, the authors manage to vividly detail his style. This guide is for all levels of teachers who wish to pass on Balanchine’s methodology to advanced students. —Courtney Rae Allen

Dance and Culture: 

An Introductory Reader 

for Middle and High 

School Levels

by Wendy Oliver

National Dance Association

In a nutshell: An insightful textbook designed to help young teens gain a general understanding of dance’s global evolution.

Oliver aims to help high school students “view dance through a cultural lens” in this classroom-friendly manual. She describes how movement traditions from around the world evolved within specific cultures, were influenced by international exposure and came to shape styles in America. (The roots of tap and jazz, for example, can be traced back to Irish step and African slave dance.) Oliver presents the material in textbook format, with bulleted lists, highlighted passages, review questions, class activities and pop references that make it easy to digest. While those wanting to delve deeper into each area will need to look elsewhere, this book is a handy resource for teachers and students seeking to understand dance in cultural rather than purely technical terms. —Kirsten Spearman

Children’s

A Dictionary of Dance

by Liz Murphy

Blue Apple Books

In a nutshell: An easy-to-read, illustrated alphabetical introduction to the fundamental elements of dance.

Murphy presents a fun and colorful way to introduce little ones to the basics of dance. She assigns a dance term to each letter of the alphabet—A for “arabesque,” B for “break dancing,” C for “choreographer,” etc.—illustrating and defining each one so that children will find it easy to grasp the concepts. A variety of dance forms, musical and stage terms and parts of the body are covered in a way that is sure to sustain the interest of budding performers—even male dancers. Murphy’s artwork features a multiethnic cast and has an appealing collage-esque, coloring-book feel. —Tracy Krisanits

Biography

Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life

by Janet Carlson

Broadway Books

In a nutshell: A touching tale about restoring life through a passion.

In this memoir, Carlson shares how her unexpected return to ballroom dance, 

after competing successfully for seven years, sparked a midlife quest for self-rediscovery, and ultimately helped her move on from a divorce and reconnect with her daughters. Through dance, she regained her confidence and realized how trust and communication are essential not only in partner dance, but in personal relationships as well. The book’s most important lesson is that having a passion can instill enthusiasm and happiness into one’s life. Carlson’s vulnerable yet   determined tone provides heartwarming inspiration for dancers and non-dancers alike. —Elizabeth Louise Hatt

Photography

Ailey Ascending: A Portrait 

in Motion

by Andrew Eccles

Chronicle Books

In a nutshell: A stunning photographic collage that combines the beauty of still life with the allure of movement as art.

With opening remarks by Artistic Director Judith Jamison and famed   playwright Anna Deavere Smith, among others, this photo book chronicles Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater over the course of its 50th anniversary year. Photographer Andrew Eccles’ images capture everything from Ailey school children to company performances of Revelations and For “Bird”—With Love. Through portraits, performance shots and behind-the-scenes looks, Eccles  highlights the beauty of the company’s dancers and the structural magnificence of their new home, the Joan Weill Center for Dance. —KS

Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

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Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

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