I finished reading Deborah Bull's latest book, "The Everyday Dancer" in a space of...4 hours I believe (stretched over two days as my reading time gets relegated to just-before-bed-time). It was quite excellent and I couldn't put it down (except to make myself sleep so that I wouldn't be cranky the next day at work).
I have to thank the Universe that there are people out there in the world like Deborah Bull sharing their knowledge and experiences. Whilst the book is stated quite clearly not to be an autobiographical look at a dancer's life, it heralds snippets from Deborah's past experiences mixed with the every day events and happenings that any dancer could experience.
I love how she has set this book out - instead of chapters she has sectionalized each component into a schedule - basically outlining a day in the life of a dancer, starting with 10:30am Class. Very clever. She explores the day through class, rehearsals and the intermittent periods between rushing to each studio - she covers what dancers eat and how nutrition should be approached, and how many dancers make the same mistakes concerning their diet, also mentioning the obligatory image that a ballet dancer has to uphold which can be quite stressful. She even gives us a backstage tour of the theatre and the shoe room. This is all in the perspective of someone who has had over twenty years experience with the Royal Ballet.
I love Deborah's writing. She is a fiercely talented woman and what I love most about her is that she has a brain - a big bulging literary brain that is also analytical. I think in some ways, she would have been too smart for ballet - but then, there's nothing wrong with having a high-functioning dancer, but it begs the question, does a dancer with such a high intellect get restless and bored easily?-do they search outside for more stimulation? I think it can work both ways and depends highly on the individual. You can be incredibly smart and yet totally consumed in your art, or you can be incredibly smart, consumed with your art but also hungry for more - which might be a more attractive alternative because what Deborah also mentions in this book is the dancer's retirement. Life after dance. She paints a frightening picture for dancers that do no venture outside the world of dance and it is almost like a silent warning that one must always have at least a toe on the ground so that they can get a grasp of what reality could potentially be like once your dancing days are over.
One of my favourite notions that Deborah highlights in this excellent book is that a dancer must remember that they are first and foremost a person - so therefore, pursue interests outside of dance and draw on those other experiences for inspiration in your dancing. Clever - and so true. It's very dull watching a one-dimensional dancer on stage. Those that have a true presence and a sense of character on stage, I believe, are the clever ones who have a multi-dimensional view on life, dancing and their art.
Happy dancing folks - I sincerely recommend this for your must-read 2012 lists!!! 10/10
About Deborah Bull ~
Other books by Deborah Bull ~
- The Vitality Plan
- Dancing Away
- The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet (with Luke Jennings)