BEING A DANCER by Lyndsey Winship


‘I’m obsessed and passionate, and it is my whole life, but it is only dancing.’ – Wayne McGregor.

 This is a very handy new reference book, one that you would probably dip in and out of rather than reading straight from cover to cover in one burst.

Hot off the press, it is a fascinating snapshot of the current UK dance world as all the experts interviewed live and work in the UK (including Australian Steven McRae ).

These experts coming from the assorted fields of South Asian dance, contemporary, classical ballet, music theatre and hip hop include  Carlos Acosta, Matthew Bourne, Teneisha Bonner, Darcey Bussell, Lauren Cuthbertson, Maxine Doyle, Tommy Franzén, Adam Garcia, Jonathan Goddard, Matthew Golding, Melissa Hamilton, Wayne McGregor, Steven McRae, Stephen Mear, Cassa Pancho, Seeta Patel, Arlene Phillips, Arthur Pita, Kate Prince, Matthew Rees, Tamara Rojo, Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Hofesh Shechter, Aaron Sillis and Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen.

The book begins with a short introduction by Winship and then very brief biographies of the interviewees. The twenty five luminaries have performed with, for example, the Royal Ballet , English National Ballet, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Rambert and the Ballet Boyz. They range from West End stage stars to backing dancers for Kylie Minogue and talent show successes and include some of Britain’s top choreographers. I have to ask the question why no Russell Maliphant , Akrahm Khan or Lloyd Newson?!

The book is divided into seven sections ( Training, The Body, Getting a Job,In the Studio , On Stage , Choreography,A Life In Dance ) with short snappy ‘soundbite’ quotes.

Issues discussed include training and choosing the right teacher, working through pain and injury and how to survive the audition process, competitions, rejection and criticism. Various choreographer’s approaches are discussed too. Other questions include – How do I actually get a job as a dancer? How do I become a choreographer?

There is a detailed section on working in the studio and on preparation for performance. The section that examines how one becomes a choreographer has great quotes from luminaries such as Matthew Bourne, Wayne McGregor, Hofesh Schechter.

There is a section on etiquette while in a company. Another part looks at networking , being freelance and project work versus extended contracts with a company and the struggle almost all dancers have to survive juggling a couple of jobs. The book also asks that important question– what does a dancer do after they have to stop performing?!

BEING A DANCER concludes with the question – what would you say to your younger self or a young dancer just starting out– and are there any regrets?

Wonderful black and white photos feature at the beginning of each section. At the end of the book there is a brief glossary of various dance terms and people mentioned within. It might also however have been handy to have an index perhaps as well.

A very interesting and insightful book for those interested in the dance world that tries to answer the question– why dance?

The author Lyndsey Winship is a UK arts journalist and filmmaker who specialises in dance. A former dance editor at Time Out, she is currently dance critic of the Evening Standard and a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Featured Pic- Tamara Rojo and Lauren Cuthbertson. Pic Tristram Kenton

Being A Dancer by Lyndsey Winship.

Paperback, 200 pages
ISBN: 9781848424623
Format: 216mm x 138mm
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Published: 16th July 2015