Top 5 Summer Reads for Dancers and Educators
June 19, 2021

With summer fast approaching (or slowly approaching depending on your current situation…i.e. online learning!) here are some of my favourite books for dancers, teachers, movers, coaches, and/or artists to enjoy over the holidays.

Over the summer months, I need to re-fuel and get inspired so I can show up in the fall with fresh ideas, perspectives and strategies which ignites my motivation so I am able to teach and create at my best. If I don’t, I know I will crash and burn EARLY in the year (not an option, as this is a marathon and not a sprint). This “rejuvenation process” I will call it (aka filling my own cup), is essential for success (my own and my students, full stop).

So here we go! Check out a few of my favs:

 

1. The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells

By far my favourite book on health and wellness. Greg Wells is clear, concise and I LOVE the interconnections (based on science) that he outlines between sleep, nutrition, mindset, and exercise. If you want a go-to book for health and general well-being, this is my go to. I often purchase copies as gifts for teachers and friends and it’s always a hit, highly recommend.

2. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Creativity comes from processes, specifically habits, according to renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp. It is a skill that is developed, not necessarily something that you instantly have or don’t. It can be honed, improved, stretched and it can be lost if not nurtured over time (for me, this is when my choreo becomes stale, predictable and starts looking the same…any choreographers with me on this one?)

Also, I found it reassuring that even the greats don’t always get it right, and that they too struggle with self-doubt and sometimes flat out fail. Tharp writes that, not everything will be exceptional that we create, and that’s ok, but the point is, to keep creating. A great read for anyone, but a must read for all choreographers and/or artists.

 

3. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

I am sucker for reads on habit formation. Written by one of my favourite authors and podcast hosts (“Happier”), Gretchen Rubin outlines 21 strategies for habit formation. In my opinion, this read is better than the best-seller ,“Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Many of the strategies Gretchen outlines have become staples in my life and this book is my go-to if and when I find myself off-track in living my values. Also, it is a helpful tool for educators when creating team and individual student goals in your classroom and/or program.

4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but I absolutely loved it. Essentially, it is an overview of her perspectives, experiences and opinions about the creative process and her relationship to her writing (which can be applied to any artistic venture). She clearly takes her work seriously, but doesn’t take herself too seriously in the process of creating, which I appreciate. It’s just fabulous, and quite frankly this overview just doesn’t do it justice!

 

5. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Ok, before I get into this one, note that I am not a huge Brene Brown book fan. She’s a great speaker, I respect her work but most of her books are not for me (this girl can only read so much on shame, you know?)

Bu here, specifically, she beautifully articulates the connection we have to others during large group gatherings (i.e. in the form of performances like live dance, concerts etc.) AND she has an entire section on dance itself and describes it as “full body vulnerability” (AMEN!) It was the last few chapters of this book that had me saying “yes, I totally agree” out loud as I frantically highlighted various lines and paragraphs. It’s a helpful chapter for arts advocacy and explaining the importance of these collective experiences to others, which I have found difficult to put into words in the past.

**BONUS READS**

Train (Your Brain) Like An Olympian by Jean Francois Menard

Mindset coaching for athletes that can be applied to the workplace. Definitely a great read for coaches and teachers. Lots of great insight but I found this more reassuring in my teaching practice vs actually learning anything new. Regardless, a great read.

 

Spark by John J. Ratey, MD

So disclaimer here, I am not actually done this book. However, what I have read so far explains the correlation to exercise and improved academic performance. As a movement based educator in the school system myself, I see this every day but the science based evidence is helpful when advocating for dance and movement based education in our schools (which I believe are highly undervalued and underutilized in the system…. But I digress). Ask me in another week or so, how the rest of this played out.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Comment below with your thoughts and any other recommendations that would be valuable to dive into this summer!

 

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