Dancer’s choice: Books to move you

Posted on 02 March 2022 By Behind Ballet Editor

It’s no secret, reading has always been a favourite pastime for our dancers. Reading for relaxation, to deepen creative expression, or simply reading to escape to another time and place…luckily, the joy of losing yourself in a good book is still as powerful as ever. In celebration of World Book Day this year, we dive into some of our artists favourite text-gems, exploring books that have moved, captivated and empowered them on a deeply personal level. Add these titles to your reading list this year. 

LILLA HARVEY

What is your favourite book? Just Kids by Patti Smith

What do you find most compelling about this book? I had been a fan of Patti’s music for a few years and wanted to learn more about what made her the artist she is. What held my attention is her poetic yet candid writing style in this journal structured book, how deeply I came to care about the lives of the people it features, and just the atmosphere of life in New York harbouring all its famed artists during the counterculture movement. 

What did you takeaway from reading this book? This book is an ode to art, music, life, love, and friendship and inspires the reader to seek meaning from loving the people around you and he importance of expressing yourself. As cheesy as it is Just Kids always remains hopeful no matter how hard life can get and noticing the simple joys along the way.

How did you feel after you read this book for the first time? I was left sobbing at the end, I had become so transported into the book and it made me feel like all I wanted was to be a part of her world (extremely enviable). Experiencing life through Patti’s lens made me want to try and see my own in a more romanticised and observant way, it also made me want to discover more art in all its mediums.

Can you share your favourite excerpt from this book? I don’t have a favourite, but here are some morsels:

“No one expected me. Everything awaited me.” 

“Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself?” 

“Both of them were ahead of their time, but they didn't live long enough to see the time they were ahead of.” 

How would you describe this book in three words? 

Touching, nostalgic, poetic

BRYCE LATHAM

What is your favourite book? Finding Sisu by Katja Pantzar

What do you find most compelling about this book? This book is compelling in that the Finnish lifestyle can transform ones body, mind and spirit and you learn how to embrace the ‘keep it simple and sensible’ daily practices that the Finns partake in.

What did you takeawy from reading this book? I learnt that the simplest changes in my daily routines can be the most effective. Whether it's taking a simple walk or doing yoga, these things can aid my anxiety that arises. 

How did you feel after you read this book for the first time? I felt refreshed and re-energised. This has made me think of how and what I can do differently to aid my mind and soul. 

Can you share your favourite excerpt from this book?  A little paragraph that I feel encapsulates the book is:

"Anyone anywhere could use a little Sisu or fortitude in their daily lives to feel healthier and ultimately happier. It's really about moving outside of your comfort zone in a positive way -  can you challenge yourself to take healthy risks, try new experiences, and consider going beyond your limits whether thats physically, mentally or emotionally."

How would you describe this book in three words? 

Courage, strength and happiness.

GRACE CARROLL

What is your favourite book? ​I’ve read many treasured books that have impacted me, so it is hard to just pick one. However, I recently read Outline by Rachel Cusk which takes the pick at the moment.

What do you find most compelling about this book? This book is written with such perfect balance between the profound and the ludicrous. Each chapter is an alluring conversation with new characters and contradictory opinions. 

What did you takeaway from reading this book? I wouldn't say I learnt "lessons" so to speak but more so, this book sheds light on the importance of storytelling and being the percipient observer while remaining completely objective. The book is written in a way where this kind of thinking is provoked.

How did you feel after you read this book for the first time? Inspired to listen and observe!

Can you please share your favourite excerpt from this book?

"Sometimes it has seemed to me that life is a series of punishments for such moments of unawareness, that one forges one’s own destiny by what one doesn’t notice or feel compassion for; that what you don’t know and don’t make the effort to understand will become the very thing you are forced into knowledge of."

How would you describe this book in three words?

Confessional, subtle, significant. 

RILEY LAPHAM

What is your favourite book? A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. 

What do you find most compelling about this book? The absurd and surprising plotline intertwined with philosophical and thought-provoking observations on life.

What did you takeaway from reading this book?

That a twisted humour can sometimes be found in life's contradictions, chaos, nonsense, and futility.

That a passion in life is invaluable. That there is importance in your identity being self-standing.

The title of the book comes from a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson; "The moment we meet with anybody, each becomes a fraction".

The father and son's identities are inextricably linked, to the point of detriment.

A lesson I took is the value in loving someone whilst being a 'whole' on your own, not a fraction. 

How did you feel after you read this book for the first time? I was by myself when I finished it, but I think I said 'wow' out loud. I felt a little speechless and somewhat exhausted (but in a good way), with a very apparent reminder of how small my existence is in the grand scheme of things. 

Can you please share your favourite excerpt from this book?

"Or about how when you're a child, to stop you from following the crowd you're assaulted with the line "If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?" but when you're an adult and to be different is suddenly a crime, people seem to be saying, "Hey. Everyone else is jumping off a bridge. Why aren't you?"' 

How would you describe this book in three words?

Original. Hilarious. Poignant. 

 

Keen to read up on ballet more specifically? Explore some of these most-loved titles we have on our bookshelves.