This slim, illustrated volume for young readers details the lives of 12 dancers from around the world and across the centuries and teaches readers how to create works in their individual styles.
Dance is a universal art form; yet while nearly all cultures practice it, very few do so in the same way. In this brief history, six male and six female dancers are profiled for their different contributions to the art. Beginning with France’s King Louis XIV, an avid ballet dancer who founded the Royal Academy of Dance, the book tells the stories of such diverse luminaries as William Henry “Juba” Lane, possibly the first professional African-American dancer and a favorite performer of Charles Dickens; Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina who appeared around the world and became a household name; and Michio Ito, a Japanese dancer who sought to unite Eastern and Western styles but couldn’t avoid being deported from his adopted country during World War II. At the end of each lavishly illustrated chapter, readers are given prompts to help them choreograph their own works in each dancer’s unique style; one can experiment with the signature floating jumps of ballerina Marie Taglioni, the expressive use of eyes in the traditional Indian dance of Mrinalini Sarabhai, and the storytelling in the Mexican folk dance of Amalia Hernández. Dunkin (Dancing in Your School: A Guide for Preschool and Elementary School Teachers, 2006) is a longtime dance educator, and her experience comes through in her clear and easy-to-follow choreographic instructions at the end of each chapter. Her prompts—by far the best thing about the book—guide readers through each step of the different dance styles while also leaving plenty of room for creative interpretation. Active young readers and students of the art form should love getting the opportunity to try out everything from courtly French ballet to American modern dance and beyond, discovering which styles best suit their own personalities without feeling stifled in the way that one often can be by traditional dance classes.
A fun, kid-friendly history of one
of humanity’s most enduring forms of expression.