Rest Your Feet, Exercise Your Mind

For everyone getting ready to head off to summer intensives, here's another thing to add to your packing list: some good books! Reading can be a great way to give your exhausted body a much-needed rest. Books in print, e-reader editions, books online, whatever floats your boat, check out some of the great works out there about dance. 

The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp
Throughout Tharp's extensive career, she's worked with some of the most prominent dancers, companies, musicians and designers in the world, and it's from these experiences that she draws the material for her book about collaboration. Designed as a companion to her earlier book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (a must-read about the process of creating dance), The Collaborative Habit covers the ins and outs of working together, from the characteristics of good collaborations, to warning signs that a collaboration may be dysfunctional, to different types of collaborations (between friends, with an institution, virtual, to name a few). Though most of the anecdotes in the book are dance-related, Tharp stresses the importance of collaboration in all walks of life. 

Apollo's Angels by Jennifer Homans
Be warned: This book is long. Don't be deterred by it's length, though, 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. 

Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant
Originally written in 1967, there have been numerous updated editions published, most recently in 2009. This book covers nearly every ballet step there is, with special attention paid to what each movement  is called in the French, Cecchetti and Vaganova methods. Another plus? It includes a pronunciation guide for some of those tough to sound out terms. A lightweight paperback, this guide is the perfect size to throw in your bag as a quick reference for any questions you may have throughout the day.

Murder in the Fifth Position by Edgar Box
Originally written and published in the 1950s by Edgar Box, this whodunnit ballet mystery was re-released this year under the name of the true author— critically-acclaimed Gore Vidal. The story follows a PR man turned detective trying to solve the murder mystery of a prominent New York City ballerina who fell to her death onstage—landing in a perfect fifth position. A good one for down time before bed or between rehearsals!

Titles to look for in the next few months...
Dance Medicine: Head to Toe: A Dancer's Guide to Health by Judith R. Peterson, MD
This book offers a complete look at the common injuries and illnesses that affect dancers, written by the former attending physician of the Pennsylvania Ballet. Scheduled for release in late June.  

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
A novel about a dancer's search for identity and fulfillment in a prestigious NYC ballet company, written by former NYCB dancer Sophie Flack. Scheduled for release in October.

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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

Courtesy Carrie Gaerte, modeled by 2020 Butler University graduate Michela Semenza

Concussions Are More Than a Bump on the Head. Here's What Dancers Need to Know

Your partner accidentally drops you during a lift. You collide head-on with another dancer in rehearsal. Or you're hit in the face while you're spotting a turn. Even if you didn't lose consciousness, you may have a concussion, which can occur from a direct blow to the head or rotary force of the brain moving excessively or striking the skull.

As a dancer, your first instinct may be to keep going, but you shouldn't, says physical therapist and athletic trainer Carrie Gaerte, PT, DPT, ATC, who works with Butler University in Indianapolis and at Ascension St. Vincent Sports Performance. "What's really hard for dancers is admitting that maybe something isn't right," she says. "But the big thing about concussions is that your brain is not like your ankle, shoulder or knee. When your brain has an injury, that needs to take precedence over a role or a job."

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Getty Images

Thinking About College Ballet Programs? Here's a Comprehensive Guide to the Application Process

Gone are the days when you had to skip college in order to have a successful ballet career. College ballet programs are better than ever before, providing students with the training, professional connections and performance experience they need to thrive in companies postgraduation. But given the number of elements involved in the application process, choosing the right program can feel daunting. We've broken the college application timeline down step by step to help you best approach each stage along the way.

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