Shall We Dance

Shall We Dance?

By Amy Brunvand

Some dance books to put under the tree.
by Amy Brunvand

Now that Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day have been duly celebrated, you can go holiday shopping in the spirit of gratitude and with a clear conscience. But why stop there? Personally, I plan to treat the entire month of December as Buy Local Month.

Local First Utah says, “locally owned retailers return 55.3% of their revenue to the local economy. For comparison purposes, national chain retailers return just 13.6% of revenue. That means every dollar spent at a locally owned, independent business returns more than four times more to the local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain retailer.”

Books make the perfect gift because they are both highly personal and highly re-giftable. The Local First Utah website lists 29 independent bookstores in Utah where you can pick up gifts for the dancers on your shopping list. Here are some suggestions for new dance books worth the gift wrap.

For the kids:
Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo. Sy Montgomery (2013). $15
The true story of Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo who started out as a YouTube sensation and became the subject of a groundbreaking scientific study titled “Experimental evidence for synchronization to a musical beat in a nonhuman animal.” Turns out humans aren’t the only species that likes to boogie.

Rupert Can Dance. Jules Feiffer (2014) $18
Not only is this picture book about a dancing cat (!), the illustrations are by Jules Feiffer who drew those fabulous dancer cartoons in the Village Voice. Just like real cats, Rupert gets miffed when he is caught in the act of doing something cute.

Firebird. Misty Copeland. Christopher Myers, illustrator. (2014) $18
American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland shows a little girl how to dance like the firebird. “Me? I’m gray as rain, heavy as naptime,” says the girl, but Misty tells her, “You will soar, become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.”

For balletomanes:
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. Misty Copeland (2014) $25
Rock-star ballerina Misty Copeland is an African-American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre and she’s on a mission to share her love of ballet with people who aren’t wealthy and white.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. Michaela DePrince and Elaine Deprince (2014) $17
As a war orphan in Sierra Leone, DePrince clung to a beautiful picture of a while lady wearing a very short glittering pink skirt. When she was adopted by American parents, she became the dancer in the picture.

For people who live in Utah:
Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion. Derek Hough (2014). $25
Utah native Derek Hough tells of his rise to fame on Dancing with the Stars.

Ballet West: A Fifty-Year Celebration. Adam Sklute and Ballet West (2014). $25
Adam Sklute had the good sense to tell the story of Ballet West mainly in pictures. These photos will bring back memories.

For scholars and grad students:
The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance. Elizabeth Jane Wayland Barber. (2013). $22
The story of European culture told through dance and the divine presence of the Goddess.
Dancing the New World. Aztecs, Spaniards, and the Choreography of Conquest. Paul A. Scolieri, (2013), winner of the 2014 Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research. $37.
For the Aztecs, dancing was a form of worldmaking involving spectacles of life and death, sometimes literally—involving human sacrifice ; for the Spaniards, dance was an entry point for cultural annihilation.

For yourself:
The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making. Andrea Olsen & Caryn McHose $30
Thirty-one days to a better life through dance. “Extend the top of your head, reaching into space. Pull on the tops of your ears and feel the skin stretch upward (like Spock’s ears in Star Trek),” “Grow a tail of your choice,” “Flow into stillness,” “Now forget it all and release your spirit into the dance!”

Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday. Jordan Matter (2012) $18
Photographs of professional dancers in everyday settings illustrate how you feel inside when you dance, even if deep in your heart you realize that you don’t look quite that spectacular. (Also available as a 2015 calendar to inspire dancing through the year). u
And don’t forget, Buy Local First Utah:

This article was originally published on November 29, 2014.