If there is a good to be had from the current enforced “hibernation”, it is the time it has given us to return to slower, solo pleasures, the pleasures of the mind, such as reading. Now there is time to expand and deepen your knowledge and appreciation of your own artform, and catch up on those books you never had time to read properly. Dig out those books on your shelves about the artists who made this artform what it is today, who built our culture into what it is. Scour second-hand book sites, such as https://www.abebooks.com/ or speciality dance bookshop https://www.dancebooks.co.uk/ – you will find all sorts of marvellous, forgotten treasures. Or look up the catalogues of your favourite bookshops. Most have good cheap postal rates. Who knows - you might emerge from this crisis a little stiffer in the body, but with a more agile mind.
Here are few to spark your interest:
Chance and Circumstance, by Carolyn Brown
A memoir by one of Merce Cunningham’s most celebrated dancers, exploring “Cunningham’s technique, choreography and experimentation with compositional procedures influenced by [John] Cage”.
The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky
The sad ballet genius choreographer in his own words, with a brilliant forward by critic Joan Acocella (and you could read the account of his life by his wife, Romola Nijinsky, as well).
What the Eyes Hears, A History of Tap Dancing, by Brian Seibert, an authorative account of American tap dancing, from its origins as a hybrid of the jig and clog dancing from the British Isles and dances brought from Africa by slaves.
Ballets Russes – just about anything on this glamorous period in ballet is interesting and full of beautiful examples of art and design.
Maggie Tonkin’s history of Australian Dance Theatre, with personal accounts from each of its directors and expressive black and white photography.
Michelle Potter’s recently released biography of the genius designer and frequent Graeme Murphy collaborator, Kristian Fredrikson: read about it here.
Did you know that Twyla Tharp had a sister named Twanette? And twin brothers, both named Stan? Read all about this very American childhood in her autobiography, Push Comes to Shove.