An interior photo of 14-year-old Em Marie, from Jordan Matter's new book Born to Dance. Photo courtesy Workman Publishing.

7 New Dance Books for the Bunhead in Your Life

Looking for a last-minute gift for your ballet bookworm? Here's a sampling of recently published dance books for bunheads of all kinds, whether they're a health nut, a ballet history buff or just learning to point their toes.


Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story

Photo by Jayme Thornton.

Every ballet lover needs this on their coffee table. Published by DK Books, Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story was authored by a team of dance writers and historians, and includes a forward by former Royal Ballet star Viviana Durante (who serves as the book's consultant). With the help of illustrations, photographs, timelines and anecdotes, Ballet: The Definitive Illustrated Story explores the productions, choreographers, composers and dancers who have shaped our beloved art form from its royal court beginnings to the modern era. Available in hardcover, e-book.

Where to buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Books-A-Million, IndieBound

Born to Dance: Celebrating the Wonder of Childhood

Photo courtesy Workman Publishing.

Dance photographer Jordan Matter, the man behind 2012's best-selling Dancers Among Us, is out with a new photography book featuring—you guessed it—the younger dancers among us. Born to Dance: Celebrating the Wonders of Childhood (Workman Publishing) captures children of all ages striking dance poses in the unlikeliest of settings: the baseball field, the airport, the grocery store, you name it. In addition to showing us the vitality and freedom of young dance students, Matter also addresses serious issues kids face today, like bullying and loneliness. Available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

Where to buy: Workman Publishing, Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound

Start With This: A Road Map for Developing Inner Strength, Vision and Work Ethic

Photo by Jayme Thornton.

Former New York City Ballet dancer Deanna McBrearty speaks to aspiring ballet dancers in her new book, Start With This: A Road Map for Developing Inner Strength, Vision and Work Ethic. Using her own dance journey, McBrearty offers introspective lessons on how to navigate the demands and challenges of the dance world without losing yourself in the process. Brutally honest accounts of her career at NYCB, including intimidating meetings with former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, show how McBrearty learned to advocate for herself in a world that preferred she be silent and obedient. Each chapter ends with a spotlight lesson for young readers to reflect on. Available in paperback; 2-packs, 10-packs and signed copies are also available.

Where to buy: deannamcbrearty.com, Amazon

Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance

Photo courtesy Yale University Press.

Companies all over the world have been celebrating the centennial of Jerome Robbins' birth with tribute performances. What better way to celebrate at home than by curling up with a new biography? Award-winning critic Wendy Lesser's Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance (Yale University Press), released in October, examines both the artist and his art. While her book is relatively short, Lesser manages to deftly analyze Robbins' greatest works, with chapters devoted to some of his most well-known ballets and Broadway productions. Along the way she also touches on his famous collaborations with George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein and Tanaquil Le Clercq, as well as his notoriously demanding personality in the studio. Available in hardcover and e-book.

Where to buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Indigo, Powell's , Yale University Press

Eat Right Dance Right

Photo courtesy Scioscia.

Dancers rely on their bodies, which is why giving them proper nourishment is so important. Enter Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietitian with an extensive background treating dancers. Her new book, Eat Right Dance Right, is a practical, easy-to-use guide on how to fuel your body for the rigors of a dance career. Scioscia explains how metabolism and calories work, breaks down the building blocks of a nutritious diet, dispels diet myths, and offers grocery shopping tips and sample menus. A great educational tool, Eat Right Dance Right will help you create healthy eating habits for stronger performance. Available in paperback.

Where to buy: cinchnutrition.com

Conditioning for Dance: Training for Whole-Body Coordination and Efficiency, Second Edition

Photo courtesy Human Kinetics.

For dancers interested in supplementing their ballet training, Conditioning for Dance: Training for Whole-Body Coordination and Efficiency (Human Kinetics) is the ultimate resource. Written by master teacher Eric Franklin, this book offers hundreds of conditioning exercises and visualization techniques (complete with illustrations and photos) to help improve alignment, balance, flexibility and strength throughout the body. First published in 2004, this recently released second edition includes two new chapters plus a web resource with video clips of exercise tutorials, two 20-minute workouts and a personal conditioning program. Available in paperback and e-book.

Where to buy: humankinetics.com, Barnes & Noble, Walmart

On Tiptoes/De Puntitas 

Photo courtesy BookBank USA.

Inspire the little dancer in your life with On Tiptoes/De Puntitas, a new bilingual children's book based on the life of San Francisco Ballet principal Sasha De Sola. Written by Catalina V. Monterrubio and gorgeously illustrated by Gabriela García, On Tiptoes/De Puntitas is actually two stories: The first follows De Sola, who as a young girl takes ballet to overcome her shyness and later faces a career-threatening injury. The second story is about a young boy who, after seeing De Sola perform onstage, is inspired to become a dancer himself. Available in hardcover.

Where to buy: BookBank USA and select stores in San Francisco

Need More Ideas?

Here are links to other books we featured earlier this year:

Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet, by esteemed dance critic Laura Jacobs, offers poetic insights for budding balletomanes on how to watch and appreciate this beautiful, often mysterious art form.

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, tells the story of Raven Wilkinson, the first African American ballerina with the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo. This children's book includes a forward by Misty Copeland.

Dreaming with God, by former dancer and Christian author Sarah Beth Marr, is a faith-based resource for dancers looking to balance their spiritual life with the ambition and hard work that a dance career requires.

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Quinn Wharton

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Angelica Generosa Shares Her Classic, Comfy Style In and Out of the Studio

"I love the feeling and look of effortless fashion," says Angelica Generosa. Preferring a classic style, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist keeps her wardrobe stocked with blazers. But they serve a practical purpose, too. "It tends to get chilly in Seattle, so it's the perfect accessory for layering," Generosa explains.

She's also quite fond of designer handbags. "They're my go-to accessory, and they're also my weakness when shopping," she says, naming Chloé, Chanel and Dior as some of her favorite brands. "I really appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to produce one—they're so beautiful and each has its own story, in a way."

In the studio, Generosa prioritizes comfort, and she'll change up her look depending on the repertoire (leotards and tutus for classical works, breathable shirts with workout pants for contemporary). But she always arrives to work in style. "I really love putting together outfits for even just going to the studio," she says. "It's another way of expressing my mood and what kind of vibe I'm going for that day."

The Details: Street

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue blazer, white blouse and gray jeans, is photographed from underneath as she walks and looks to the right.

Quinn Wharton

BCBG blazer: "It has some shoulder pads and a really cool pattern," says Generosa. "It reminds me of my mom and '80s fashion."

Zara blouse: She incorporate neutrals, like this white satin button-up, to balance bright pops of colors.

Angelica Generosa looks off to her right in front of a glass-windowed building. She wears a blue blazer, white blouse, gray jeans and carries a small green handbag.

Quinn Wharton

Madewell jeans: Comfort is a major factor for Generosa, who gets her fashion inspiration from her mom, friends and people she comes across day to day.

Chloé bag: "I tend to have smaller purses because I'm quite small. Bigger bags overwhelm me sometimes—unless it's my dance bag, of course!"

The Details: Studio

Angleica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool leggings and pink pointe shoes, balances in a lunge on pointe with her left leg in front, facing a wall of windows.

Quinn Wharton

Label Dancewear leotard: "This was designed by my good friend Elizabeth Murphy, a principal dancer here at PNB. Her leotards always fit me really well."

Mirella leggings: "I get cold easily," says Generosa, who wears leggings and vests to stay warm throughout the day.

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool tights and pink pointe shoes, jumps and crosses her right foot over her left shin while lifting her arms up to the right.

Quinn Wharton

Freed of London pointe shoes: "When sewing them, I crisscross my elastics and use an elasticized ribbon from Body Wrappers," which helps alleviate Achilles tendon issues, she says. She then trims the satin off of the tip of the shoe. "Then I bend the shank a bit to loosen it up and cut a bit off where my arch is."

Getty Images

This New "Nutcracker" Competition Wants Your Dance Studio to be Part of a Virtual Collaboration

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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