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The Best Dance Books to Learn More About Dance

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

Adult Dance School Brussels Belgium

Who doesn’t love a good book to curl up to on a nice weekend where you can escape from reality and just enjoy your own time. Between you and me, whenever I am interested in something I make it apparent that I learn about it thoroughly. And because I am a dance fanatic, I love sharing everything dance related with you. If you are interested in learning more about dance, I have compiled some amazing books to add to your roster that you have to read. So, without further ado, let’s get into it friendssss.

1. The Dance bible: The complete Resource for aspiring dancers by: Camille Lefevre

As the title suggests, this book is a great start for beginner dancers who hold a passion for movement and dance but are unsure on how to start out. This book can help you “transform your creative impulse” into movement whether it’s through modern dance, jazz, ballet, or even hip hop style dancing. The Dance Bible is also a great way to help you discover and develop your own style of dance and advises you on physical conditioning for your body. While this book does talk about creating a career out of dance, you can definitely use this book to start off learning about dance and how to incorporate it through your everyday regime.

2. The Dancer Prepares (2004) by: James Penrod & Janice Gudde Plastino

This book is honestly a really good book. The authors really emphasize that art, in any form, doesn’t just come naturally and gifts certain people; while that is true for some, dance and any variation of the arts can be taught and learned by anyone. The Dancer Prepares is designed to provide both beginner and intermediate dancers/students with concrete information that will help you learn the craft of dance. Readers discover a “new appreciation for the arts, for dance, and for the self-discovery, self-expression, and self-discipline that the study of dance can bring.”

3. The People Have Never Stopped Dancing: Native American Modern Dance Histories by: Jacqueline Shea Murphy

On a more historical front, The People Have Never Stopped Dancing is an homage to Native American Dance and how they have shaped and bled into modern styles of dance. This book illustrates how “Native dance enacts cultural connections to land, ancestors, and animals as well as spiritual and political concerns.” Shea Murphy really does challenge stereotypes and introduces and recognizes one’s agency through dance. This book Is a great source to educate yourself on traditional, historical and profound work of dance among the Native American communities and “celebrates the spirit and resistance of generations of indigenous dancers and Choreographers.”

4. Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism From Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey by: Julia L. Foulkes

Icon Martha Graham argued that “Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body,” and this book is a true form of how to learn that language. Modern Bodies goes beyond just the aesthetic of modern dance and candidly embodies how dancers devise new ways of movement and expression through their bodies; how society, one’s life experiences, hurt and happiness all effect and transform one’s actions. This book teaches you how to tap into the art of expression on your own while challenging the conventional roles and images of gender, sexuality, race, class and regionalism through the view of American modernism and modern dance.

5. Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance by: Thomas F. Defrantz

The influence that African American music and movement had throughout the history of dance is unmistakable, and Dancing Many Drums does an impeccable job of exploring the ground-breaking collection of different cultures, history, theory, and practice of dance to our modern understanding and expression. This volume provides images of performances, from social dances to professional settings in Hollywood and Cinema. Seamlessly blending issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance. This book ranges widely and discusses iconic illustrations and photo essays such as the “African opera” and African Dance in New York.

6. The Intimate Act of Choreography by: Lynne Anne Blom & L. Tarin Chaplin

For the final book, I wanted to talk about all things choreography, because what is dance without creation? The Intimate Act of Choreography covers everything from fundamentals to highly sophisticated artistic concerns. Starting with basics, this book introduces a workable format that touches on time, space, force and moves and leads you to more complex abstractions without making you feel like you missed a couple steps along the way. The book does an amazing job of linguistically providing exploratory work, improvisations and simply how to express what you want how you want to. You don’t have to be the best choreographer to learn how to make a dance, and this book can teach you how to create.

And there you have it friends, some of the best books to get you started on learning more about dance! There is so much to learn and love about dance and the history it holds. I hope this small list interests you to go out and learn about dance and creativity and all things art and expression! If these books inspired you to take up dance classes, be sure to check us out because we believe that everyone can dance and that means you too! Check out what we have to offer here, and how to get registered here! Happy reading ☺

Much love,

The STU Arts Dance Team




There are so many more books I want to recommend but we will be stuck here for ages if I talk about them all, so here is a small list to add on to the one above!

  • The Art of Making Dances by Doris Humphrey

  • Beginning Hip Hop Dance by E. Moncell Durden

  • Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the land of Ballet by Stephen Manes

  • Dance Appreciation by Amanda Clark & Sara Pecina

  • Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance by Eric Franklin

  • Psychology of Dance by Jim Taylor

  • Social Dance: Steps to Success by Judy Patterson Wright

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Novel)

  • Bunheads by Sophie Flack (novel)

  • Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton & Sona Charaipotra (novel)


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