Children's Literature @ NYPL
Booktalking "Meet the Dancers" by Amy Nathan
Want to "get in the groove" and discover what it takes to be a pro dancer? Long, sweaty hours in the dance studio, time spent away from family and friends, pursuit of your dream? You decide if that is your career path in life. Dance is a difficult profession to pursue, physically, and the job security is not there; many auditions may be in your future.
But... cavorting through the air... playing fairies, angels... being anyone that you want to be on stage... moving with other dancers in a kinesthetic dream. Sounds like fun to me. Unfortunately, I am not physically flexible enough for that, and I have to admit, I may be a little bit jealous of people whose bodies can take the rigor of professional dancing.
Dance has been a part of my life since I was young, and I totally understand why dancers love the freedom of expression of their inner selves that cannot be paralleled by words, the epinephrine, the joy of performing and physical perfection. This book can give aspiring dancers an idea of how other dancers developed professionally and met their career goals.
Booktalking Meet the Dancers: From Ballet, Broadway and Beyond, 2008 by Amy Nathan
An Inside Look at Dance Careers: I learned so much from this book that I was completely surprised. It gives a reasonably revealing look at the career and professional development of dancers and dance teachers. I have never been involved in that world much, so it is great to see what is involved with people who choose to partake in the arts, particularly in the kinesthetic, expressive arts. I am very entranced with athletes, especially olympic gymnasts or anyone who has the ability to cavort their bodies through air like nymphs and gazelles. It was terrific to get an inside look into what the industry is like. There is not much space was devoted to the injuries and strain on their bodies that dancers endure. There is some talk of sore feet and ankles. Most dancers are through with their professional careers by their early or mid-thirties. It is cool to see how dancers go from fooling around in their houses to performing onstage and delighting audiences.
Being a Child Dancer: Some dance companies, such as the Houston Ballet and the Ailey Dance Company, tend to have dance schools associated with them. Talented dancers can impress their friends on the school recess yard with flips on the playground. Kids who pursue dance as a career may have very dedicated parents who are willing to move to other towns in search of better dance schools. Child dancers often give up many other activities to pursue dance. They may be attending dance class several times a week at perhaps a significant commute from their houses. They may miss school and family functions in their pursuit of dance. Only a few of the dancers who attempt to pursue dancing as a career can be successful. Dancers' need to audition frequently in order to secure viable work was touched upon in this book. Pursuing the kinestetic arts as a career, like actors could attest, is not easy and it does not make millionaires, usually. Many dancers seem to have the experience of dancing in The Nutcracker as a kid, something that another book said that ballet dancers can dread since they dance that dance so many times every holiday season. Many dancers take yoga, Pilates, work out at the gym, and engage in various other physical sports and activities, not surprisingly.
Lovely Photos & 16 Biographies!: I liked the setup of the book, including the biographies to introduce each of the sixteen dancers that were profiled in this book. The photographs of the dancers depicted striking poses. I loved the photos of the dancers as little kids justapoxed next to pictures of their adult spectacular dancing poses. The book has "Dance Talk" segments which discuss topics of interest to aspiring dancers, including watching videos to learn from other dancers, switching studios, have mothers who dance, etc. The book covers many styles of dance, including street dance, ballet, modern dance, musical theatre, jazz, etc. This is a great book for people who are exploring career in dance; it will give them a great taste of what leads to success in the dance world.
I was actually insanely happy when I discovered that the Dance Teacher magazine can be bought for a mere $20! I was so happy. NYPL actually has a subscription to the e-journal when viewed in the library, so I was able to skim a few issues before deciding to purchase it (it's nice to have horsey and dance hard copies of magazines arrive at my house). The magazine discusses intriguing things such as hand position, which I am sure will help me improve my dancing, in concert with the dance classes that I love to take at The Ailey Extension.
Why Dancers Love Dance: I think that a lot of dancers love the art for the same reason that I do. They love the freedom of expression, and they can forget about their problems when they dance. People can express their emotions through movement in a way that words do not accomplish. Also, there is a joy that is indescribable that one can feel when flying around through the air: a terrific feeling of peace and pure happiness when your body and mind feel so free. As one dancer puts it,
"For the hour of class, I could listen to beautiful music, move to it, and get in touch with my physical self."
Audition: Many former professional dancers teach dance classes. Auditioning for jobs can be tricky. One dancer in the book stated that he or she auditioned for two years before getting the hang of it. One dancer that was profiled in the book had advice on auditioning for prospective dancers. He mentioned that dancers should select clothes that are appropriate for the job, relationships with the choreographers can be influential, and "your look" can make or break whether or not a dancer gets a job. If a director wants a dancer of a particular race, it may not matter how great someone's dancing is if the dancer is not from the desired cultural background.
- Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Books on dance
- Books by Amy Nathan