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5 Books A Dancer Must Read

5 Books A Dancer Must Read

‘Dance’ sprouts from emotion & inspiration and a dancer’s life fly beyond the anvil of a library. There is no book in the Universe that can teach dance. To be able to dance is a sheer blessing of God! But having said that, one can always wander through the limitless realm that a book unfolds. Any book that churns up the soul or opens up new vistas and helps one imagine can be of great help for a dancer.

It is also important for a dancer to know about the history of dance, be it Indian or Modern. Knowing the roots strengthens the foundation of one’s wisdom. Various techniques, knowledge about makeup and usage of light can definitely be learnt from different books. Lives of stalwarts and their true inspirational stories can pick us up when we stumble. It holds true in the field of dance also. Life in its own order teaches us a lot of things, adapting to what is new is one of them. Books are essential in keeping track of the newer development that take place in the field of performing arts.

Being a dancer myself, I have always tried to feed my wisdom with different books on dance and other performing arts and, of course, biographies of dance maestros, that have helped me immensely to enlighten  my mind and inspire my soul. If asked, I will always recommend a few books listed below which encompasses Dance as a force of passion irrespective of geographical  borders or colour of our skin. These books help one get an idea about the scenario of dance in India and abroad.
There is no limit to knowledge, neither can dance be known in merely five books. But surely one can start with a single page and reach the depth of the wisdom that remains hidden inside a book waiting to be found by the worthy

Books that I recommend would be:

  1. His Dance His life – A Portrait of Uday Shankar by Mohan Khokar

Uday Shankar was an acclaimed dancer and choreographer who was most widely known for merging different styles of dance. The book outlines the life and times of this dancer and choreographer. It eulogizes Uday Shankar but does not hide his weaknesses. The author seems to have spent a lot of time with Uday Shankar during the last years of Uday Shankar’s life and had about ten hours of tape recorded conversations with him.uday

  1. Creations by Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai’s Creations revolves around what the famous dancer has created through the language of dance. She explains in details the inspirations of a number of her dance dramas and as well as voices her thoughts and concerns on various different subjects. Abundantly accomplished and world-renowned dancer, choreographer, guru, scholar, poetess and writer, Mrinalini Sarabhai has been hailed as the current high priestess of Indian classical dancing. Through Creations, she describes in lucid language and eloquent photographs, what she has created through the alphabet of dance. In her words: “Creative activity is a presentation in understandable terms of what we are, a picture of man’s inner aspirations, joys, and sorrows.”


  1. Bharata’s Natyashastra

Written in 200 BCE, this book revolves primarily around stagecraft but discusses music, theatre, dance and even make up! It incorporates a detailed study of the different dance forms, various movements and their respective impacts on the minds of the viewer. The text is in the form of elaborate dialogues between the author and a group of Munis,sageswho wished to know about Natya-Veda, the knowledge of the performing arts as dance, music and dramaThe author, in response, presentsa detailed inquiry in to the various facets of drama including its nature; and the origin, theories, techniques of the theater with all its components of speech, body-language, gestures, costumes, décor and the state of mind of the performers, apart fromrituals, architecture of theatre etc. Written in archaic form of Sanskrit, the text consists about six thousand (5,569 – to be exact) sutras or verse-stanzas spread over thirty-six chapters. Some passages are in prose.


  1. Dance Transcending Borders by U.S. Munsi

In the age of globalisation, the book incorporates thoughts and issues as discussed by scholars around the world as dancers step out and cross boundaries through the medium of dance. It studies the world of dance in the changing ecosystem where it is affected by societies, politics and more.The world of dance in today’s context is constantly being shaped by the nature of the state politicized markets the dialogues taking place within and between cultures as well as the growing importance of multimedia skills. As the identity of dance and of dancers undergoes constant interrogation and re organization there is an increasing need to establish dialogues across regions and to identify and understand the major areas of concern some of which may be common to all while others may be specific to the social political historical conditions of particular countries. This edited volume a project of the research and documentation network of the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific brings together renowned scholars from the Asia Pacific region the Americas and Europe to discuss issues of global and local importance that are at the centre of contemporary research. It hopes to generate a fruitful inter regional and/or inter country understanding of the art form as dance and dancers themselves step out and transcend transcending borders

  1. Page by Page by Ruth Page.

Refusing to stick to only one form of dance, Ruth Page is a legacy on her own. She travelled the world, choreographed, danced and broke boundaries. The book gives an educational insight into her own experiences, training, dance forms and more. On retiring from active choreography, Page created the Ruth Page Foundation, which established the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance, as it was originally known, and which later became the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, as it is known now.

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Again, the list remains endless, read and feed your imagination as much as you please.


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