Top 13 Books Every Dancer Should Read from Ballroom Dancing Technique to Nutrition

In this article we wanted to provide a helpful list of book resources related to the needs of a dancer, with a short description of each. Unfortunately, there is still uncharted territory when it comes to books on dancesport but we hope brave and passionate writers will cover it and bring fascinating stories at our fingertips more often.

We’ve broken down the books into three main categories: ballroom dancing specifics, mindset and nutrition.

BALLROOM DANCING

1. Latin – Thinking Sensing and Doing in Latin American Dancing by Ruud Vermeij

You can buy it here.
Vermeij is a fine and sharp thinker with an extraordinary capacity to immerse himself in the depths of the human being. If you are looking to inquire into the relationship between mind and movement this book will show you the way.
The author provides valuable insights into the world of dance and the book has a timeless value. You can find more about his work on Dutch Dance Lab and the projects he works on in order to help dancers and choreographers accelerate their dance careers.

2. The Male Dancer by Ramsey Burt

You can buy it here.
The Male dancer is a fascinating read that articulates the portrayal of masculinity in the 20th century. The author analyzes how the male and the male body is scrutinized by the audience while on stage. It’s a book that makes you ask the right questions. Hypermasculinity, prejudice and more hot topics are involved. If you are interested in dance studies or gender studies, you will find his work very compelling.

3. Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings by Wendy Perron

You can buy it here.
Wendy Perron is a notable dance critic and an experienced ballet dancer and choreographer. Through her intimate writings, she contributes significantly to the conversation on dance. The chapters flow chronologically from the 60’s to the present and include essays, interviews, memoirs, blog posts, profiles, and reviews. If you want a blend between journalism and dance you better not miss this one.

4. From Ballroom to DanceSport: Aesthetics, Athletics, and Body Culture by Caroline Joan S. Picart

You can buy it here.
Caroline Joan S. Picart witnessed the world of dance first-hand. Her book reflects the changes in choreography, costumes and other aspects that took place the past several years. Mainly the author discusses ballroom dance’s attempt to become an Olympic sport and its transformation to dancesport. Despite the ever changing nature of dancesport, its core will always stay the same.

5. Ballroom Dancing by Alex Moore

You can buy it here.
This is the Books of Books on ballroom dancing technique. It’s not an easy read but it is a powerful resource you should come back to from time to time because the learning process is never over. Read it. Do it. Insights about technique, partner dancing, footwork and all the related terminology – all in one book. There are also diagrams you could find very useful and that can make your training easier, and your teacher’s advice easier to understand.

6. Life Lessons from the Ballroom: Lessons For An Extraordinary Life by Katyusha Schaffer

You can buy it here.
Based on her ten-year career as a champion pro/am Ballroom dancer the author offers lessons for people from all walks of life. This book recognizes the power of ballroom dancing to change lives: from ordinary lives to extraordinary fulfilling ones.

MINDSET

6. The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow

You can buy it here.
The champion’s mind is a book that is born from the personal experience of Afremow—leading sport psychologist who works for elite performers and athletes from different disciplines—and in which we can find sports psychology, motivational stories from world-class athletes, and routines for becoming top-level in your game.
The author talks about managing your strengths and your limitations. You have to be fully emerged in your strengths that your weaknesses don’t affect your everyday life. Another interesting section is about visualization and meditation. Also, just wanted to point out that he advises all of us to cut ties with people in our lives that bring constantly negativity into our lives.

7. Focus by Daniel Goleman

You can buy it here.
The book digs in anecdotes with extremely delicate arguments that will benefit your inner self and guide you towards a personal growth path. It’s not a light text, it’s a more committed reading but if you are looking for a tool to help you understand yourself and those around you, grab it from the shelf. A reading necessary to understand the differential value of emotional intelligence and awareness in the current context to truly live our lives in tune with the world around us, personal and professional. For example, he makes a parallel between rumination and productive reflection. The difference between them is that in the first one you’re thinking about thing again and again and the latter one you think in a constructive manner to find a solution.

8. The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

You can buy it here.
In his book “The Motivation Manifesto”, Brendon Burchard explains that the reason that keeps us motivated also lies in ‘choosing’ to perform a task. Yep…we’re talking about the science of motivation. In the first part, he offers a great definition of motivation and later goes through the process of spark, sustain and amplify motivation. To develop a motivation that allows us to take some action, our mind filters the thoughts, feelings, and experiences, then classifies them and takes from them a series of reasons to definitely push you to do or not to do something.

9. The Power of Full Engagement  by James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz

You can buy it here.
The book has two main parts and 11 chapters. It revolves around the idea that not time, but energy is the force that ignites talent and skill and that there are four principles to full engagement. The authors started their work coaching athletes and what they discovered was surprising when it came to energy levels. Basically, you should be a sprint runner in real life, not a marathon runner. But more about why in the book.

10. Mastery by Robert Greene

You can buy it here.
It’s surprising how Robert Green tackled a subject that is worn out for some, full of cliche advice and he gave it a unique turn. Without shortcuts, anyone can become an expert or a teacher in their profession, through dedication, preparation, and effort. And of course, practice and passion. The author endeavored to identify the learning processes of Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Marcel Proust, Martha Graham and some others important figures. What’s their secret? Hint: practice, a lot of practice. But also a sprinkle of luck,  humility and a good mentor.

11. Mental Training for Peak Performance by Steven Ungerleider

You can buy it here.
This book is an excellent primer on the subject of mental training. There are many psychological variables that affect sports performance: emotional management, self-confidence, motivation, activation level or stress are one of them. This book presents the necessary ingredients to increase the mental capacities of athletes and optimize their potential.

NUTRITION

12. The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean

You can buy it here.
Anyone can improve their level and make training more effective, just by changing the diet. Everything you eat has a direct impact on your energy levels. As a dancer, you need to take care of your body because it’s the instrument of your work.
The author, Anita Bean, is a prestigious nutritionist, athlete, and possessor of important awards in the field of sports nutrition. This book is the definitive practical manual for anyone wishing to improve their performance. It offers useful tips on how to improve endurance and strength to progress further quickly; how to calculate the optimal intake of calories, carbohydrates, and proteins; how to have a healthy body posture;  hydration tips; and nutritional programs to reduce body fat, gain muscle, and prepare for competition.

13. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

You can buy it here
Boost your energy, reduce stress, lose body fat, build muscle and improve your performance with this sports nutrition guide. The Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guide provides practical solutions for eating and feeling good, controlling weight, having energy throughout the day, and enjoying food even if you lead a stressful lifestyle and have little time to eat and prepare the food. The book includes more than 70 recipes of tasty and healthy dishes, easy and quick to prepare. The best-known sports nutritionist in the USA indicates how to get maximum benefit from the foods you choose, teaches you to develop a healthy and appropriate diet to achieve a balance between weight and activity – without being obsessed with what you eat – and, clearly and precisely explains what eat before physical activity and how to feed afterward to achieve optimal recovery.

Any of the books we just talked about can trigger a positive change in your professional life as a dancer. If you have any more suggestions, please feel free to comment below and share with us your favorite books.


Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!


Tags: Books history mindset nutrition read

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