Lyndsey Winship’s very enjoyable book Being a Dancer distils the advice of 25 professional dancers and choreographers on subjects ranging from training and getting a job, through performing and choreographing, to living a life in dance. The book contains plenty of good, pithy, practical guidance, such as ‘Tips on Partnering’ and ‘Nailing an Audition’ and will be relevant to students whether they seek careers in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, commercial theatre or the dance of non-Western cultures. If there is one clear message that runs through the book like a thread, it is that however talented a student is, hard work and perseverance are essential.

The format, in which Winship seems to have selected short extracts, even sound bite comments, from longer interviews and organised them under headings makes this book easy to dip into. Reading it straight through, I quickly came to spot the dancers or choreographers whose ideas interested me the most, and I would have particularly liked to read the full text of what Jonathan Goddard (for instance) had to say on any of the topics in the book. Other readers will have their own favourites, and this book certainly left me wanting more from many of them.

Well illustrated with a stunning image of Carlos Acosta on the cover, attractive full-page black and white photographs at the start of each section, and retailing at £9.99, the book will make a very attractive Christmas present for a dance student.

Maggie Watson

25 October 2015

Being a Dancer: Advice from Dancers and Choreographers, by Lyndsey Winship.   London, Nick Hern Books, 2015.

You can find out more about this book and purchase a copy here