Unsurprisingly, all of the dancers and former dancers in the Pointe office love to read (and write!), so we celebrate #ReadABook Day every day. We've amassed quite a list of favorite ballet-related books, ranging from gorgeous photography books to memoirs and fiction. I compared notes with Pointe research editor Hannah Foster, to come up with an extensive list for outside the studio. Tweet us @pointe_magazine and tell us about your favorite ballet books!

Art Books:

The Art of Movement by Deborah Ory and Ken Browar, published by Black Dog & Leventhal

  • Misty Copeland: Power and Grace, by Richard Corman and Cindy Bradley. Copeland jumps off the glossy pages in striking black and white photography. The book includes her own quotes championing hope and strength in the face of adversity. —Hannah Foster
  • Ballet: Photographs of the New York City Ballet, by Henry Leutwyler and Peter Martins. The Swiss photographer’s photos go beyond capturing gorgeous poses. Rendered in rich color, the power of a leg, the swirl of a skirt—the lushness of NYCB dancers’ movement is on display. —HF
  • Matthew Brookes: Les Danseurs, by Matthew Brookes and Marie-Agnès Gillot. Matthew Brookes’ photos show the stunning strength and grace of the Paris Opéra Ballet men—displayed through intimate close ups and remarkably captured movement. —HF
  • Balancing Acts, by Lucy Gray. Told through intimate photos and inspiring personal accounts, this book follows three former San Francisco Ballet principals as they juggle the roles of ballerina and motherhood. —HF
  • The Art of Movement, by NYC Dance Project's Deborah Ory and Ken Brower. This stunning book features international dance stars floating in couture gowns and intricate costumes, all set against NYC Dance Project's signature marbled grey backdrop. (You can pre-order The Art of Movement on the NYC Dance Project website. It will be available October 25.) —Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone

Memoir and Biography:

  • I Was a Dancer, by Jacques d’Amboise. As Balanchine’s protégé, d’Amboise certainly has a compelling story. He begins by recounting his childhood in New York City and training that the School of American Ballet. We hear about his experiences dancing with Balanchine’s famous muses, as well as the life and death of Balanchine himself. —HF
  • Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland. Copeland's well-known story is chronicled in her memoir, offering insight into her triumphant rise at American Ballet Theatre. —NLG
  • Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia, by Janice Ross. What would Balanchine’s life have been like if he had stayed in his home country? Through the historical account of his contemporary, Leonid Yakobson, we may glean some idea. The Soviet choreographer is little known in the West, but his works endure. —HF
  • Alla Osipenko, by Joel Lobenthal. Soviet ballerina Alla Osipenko challenged the notion that dancers should be seen, not heard, by speaking out against her government’s oppressive status quo. However, this biography reveals that those who rebelled in Soviet Russia, even revered ballerinas, paid a price. —HF
  • Wilde Times: Patricia Wilde, George Balanchine and the Rise of New York City Ballet, by Joel Lobenthal. This book brings the early days of NYCB vividly to life by chronicling the foundation of the company and it's luminaries: Pioneering ballerinas like Wilde and Tanaquil Le Clercq. These dancers originated the roles that give NYCB much of its personality.NLG
  • Dancing on My Grave, by Gelsey Kirkland. This classic, by the former American Ballet Theatre star, chronicles Kirkland's rise to fame and her struggles with eating disorders, drug use and inter-company relationships—as well as her legendary partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov. —NLG

  • Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, by Michaela DePrince. The First Position star has begun to make a name for herself at Dutch National Ballet. Read about her early life and how she became a dancer against all odds. —NLG

History

Apollo's Angels by Jennifer Homans, published by Random House

  • Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans. Don’t be deterred by this book's length, because on its pages is a wonderfully rich  history of all things ballet.  Covering dance from the age of Catherine de Medici and Henri II in 1533 to the innovations of Balanchine in mid 20th-century New York, plus everything in between, no aspect of ballet history is left untouched. Homans offers spectacular insights into the nature of ballet, and what it means to be a dancer. —HF
  • The Ballet Lover’s Companion, by Zoë Anderson. Beginning with the Romantic period and ending with works of modern day masters like Wheeldon and McGregor, Anderson catalogues 140 ballets, offering insightful information about their choreographers, premieres, seminal performances and more. —HF
  • Dance to the Piper, by Agnes de Mille with a new introduction by Joan Acocella. Agnes de Mille—choreographer of quintessentially American ballets like Rodeo and Fall River Legend—originally published her memoir in 1951. The book gives a fascinating account of her work and life during the boom of Broadway and ballet. With a new introduction by Joan Acocella, it’s worth a revisit. —HF
  • When Ballet Became French, by Ilyana Karthas. In the mid-19th century, ballet’s epicenter moved from Paris to St. Petersburg. In this fascinating book, Karthas explores how France reclaimed ballet in the early 20th century—the turbulent pre-/post-war years between 1909 and 1939—using the period’s own ballet writing and comprehensive analyses of French culture and national identity. —HF

Fiction

  • Bunheads, by Sophie Flack. This novel follows a young corps member dancing in a company that's a thinly-veiled version of NYCB, and who thinks she knows what she wants—until she meets a college student who questions why ballet has to take up her entire life. —NLG
  • The Cranes Dance, by Meg Howrey. This novel offers a little bit of Black Swan-esque intrigue, in the form of an unstable sister, but makes it feel real by shining a light on the difficulties of sibling rivalry, mental illness and the quest to excel. —NLG

Find even more book recommendations here, here and here! And if you need more reasons to read, studies have shown that reading has benefits that extend to the stage.

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

 

The Conversation
News
Ma Cong in the studio with Tulsa Ballet. Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Without him we wouldn't have The Nutcracker, Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty. But how much do you know about Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the man behind classical ballet's most recognizable music? Did you know that the Russian composer hid his homosexuality for much of his life? He also struggled with depression; there's been speculation that his death in 1893 was in fact a suicide.

Tulsa Ballet resident choreographer Ma Cong dramatically recounts his life in a new full-length ballet titled Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music, premiering March 29-31. If you think a story ballet about the most renowned composer of story ballets set to, yes, a Tchaikovsky score, is a bit meta, you wouldn't be wrong. But considering the renewed importance of LGBTQ rights in society, it's a ballet perfectly timed to our era. In Russia, censorship still asserts that Tchaikovsky was not gay. The subject also calls to mind backlash surrounding an LGBTQ-themed work at Louisville Ballet just last month.

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Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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