3 Books Every Adult Ballet Dancer Should Read

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top three books every adult ballet dancer should read

As adult ballet continues to grow, writers have begun to author entire books that center around the wonderful and enriching topic of taking ballet as an adult. Here are three books every adult ballet student should read — these books are written by adult ballet dancers, and in these texts, the authors offer solidarity and affirmation to the adult ballet community...

Cantique adult ballet novel by Joanna Marsh

#1) Cantique: Enchanting tale of love, ballet history, and self-transformation  

Joanna Marsh, author of Cantique, is a professional librarian and archivist and, of course, a dedicated ballet student and dancer.

Her debut novel Cantique tells the transformative story of Colette Larsen.

Colette began taking ballet in her twenties, and after falling deeply in love with the art form, she grapples with complex feelings about the dichotomy between knowing she will never be a professional dancer but also knowing that ballet, no matter the level of her dancing, is more than a hobby: it is one of the most important parts of her life.

Colette loves ballet so deeply that, when she experiences sudden and jarring changes in her professional life, rather than dwelling on her problems, she finds comfort and relief in going to class.

During class, Colette unexpectedly stumbles across a piece of forgotten history — after hearing hauntingly beautiful music during a combination, Colette speaks with the class pianist and discovers sheet music from a long-lost ballet based on the biblical book Song of Solomon.

Colette knows that this forgotten ballet is incredibly special, and she can't seem to get the music —Cantique de Salomon — out of her mind.

Colette also happens to, by pure chance, meet James Brennan, a funny and charming professional ballet dancer.

Both Colette's personal and professional lives begin to transform: through her relationship with James and also through her discovery of the age-old ballet Cantique, which she longs to bring back to the stage.

So, what will happen with this long-lost ballet — will it ever meet the stage again? And what will happen between Colette and James — will their relationship end in true love or heartbreak?

Read the book to find out! Also, check out The Cantique Shop, where you can buy signed copies of the book and beautiful t-shirts and artwork inspired by the novel.

Raising the Barre an adult ballet memoir by Lauren Kessler

#2) Raising the Barre: Funny and self-deprecating memoir of an adult ballet re-beginner 

Lauren Kessler is an author and immersive journalist who, in her fifties, suddenly entered the professional ballet world. 

Kessler danced ballet as a child and dreamed of becoming a ballerina. However, after overhearing a conversation between her mother and her ballet teacher — in which her teacher said Kessler would never succeed in ballet due to her body type — she was so discouraged that she promptly quit dancing.

She was only eleven years old. 

Approximately four decades later, Kessler would author Raising the Barre, a funny, self-deprecating, and informative memoir about her experience of deep-diving into ballet in middle age and with limited experience — and somehow making it onto the stage of a professional Nutcracker production.

But just how exactly did Kessler make her way to the stage?

It all starts when Kessler's husband announces that he will be away in Paris for three weeks on business. She decides she will make the most of his time away by taking herself on a cross-country tour of her favorite ballet: The Nutcracker.

In less than one month, she views Nutcracker performances in Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco.

She is so inspired by her Nutcracker "binge" — as she refers to it — that she gets in touch with the administration at her city's local ballet company.

Against all odds, the company's co-founder agrees to allow Kessler to dance a minor role in the Nutcracker performance.

Kessler documents her training and preparation, which includes hours of Pilates and barre classes, and eventually, company ballet classes.

She also documents her rehearsals and cumulative performance.

Perhaps most notable about this book is Kessler's respectful and careful observation of the professional ballet world, which should be fascinating to anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to dance for a professional ballet company.

Read this book to learn about Kessler's experience of re-beginning ballet in middle age and also to gain an inside perspective of the often secretive world of ballet.

Adult Ballet a guide to adult ballet by Seira Tanaya

#3) Adult Ballet: Detailed guide on how to get the most out of starting ballet as an adult

Seira Tanaya is an adult ballet student who strives to dance as well as professional ballet dancers.

She describes her approach to ballet in her book Adult Ballet: From Beginners to Intermediate.

This book is in many ways a memoir, for Tanaya details her own dancing experience, but more importantly, this book is a practical how-to guide for adult ballet students who long to approach dance in a serious and disciplined way.

Tanaya offers advice about many topics including: choosing a class, what to wear to class, and how to progress technically.

She also discusses artistry, pointe work, and ballet exams — these are topics that are near and dear to many adults who do ballet. But unfortunately, these topics are often neglected in adult ballet classes.

Anyone interested in Tanaya's unique perspective on adult ballet can benefit from the detailed, informative nature of this book.

So there you have it! Three of the best ballet books for adults who love to dance. These books are unique in that they especially focus on the experience of learning ballet as an adult. Feel free to let me know if you've read any of these and to tell me what you thought!