I have been sorting out some of my books. This is a difficult task because my books relating to dance are all special in their own way. Some of my books go back a long way because I inherited them from my mother (my original dance teacher). I love these books and not just because they still offer great information but a few of them have my late mother’s handwritten notes in the margin. So looking through these books bring a rush of memories about learning to dance, learning to teach and discussions about all things dance.
When I take a bunch of books off the shelf it is clear to see which ones I refer to all the time. They look a bit tatty or even very tatty with pages that have been turned a thousand times or more. These are the ones I love to bits. These are the ones that I read over and over trying to learn more from them each time. My tatty books are on the shelves where I can reach them easily. When I put a new book on my tatty book shelf I know it will spend a lot of time out of the cupboard as well as in.
There are lots of dance related books in my cupboard that I dip into and read occasionally and not regularly. It is not that they have nothing to offer because they do. But it is usually that they are on topics that I look at from time to time and not all the time. These books are on shelves that are a little more tricky to reach but where I can find them when I need them. Included with these books are ones about great dancers of the past, dance in films and theatre and lots of other interesting stuff too about dance through history and how it has evolved to where it is today. Some of these books have wonderful pictures of wonderful dancers and what a lovely way to spend an hour or two now and again looking through these pictures and admiring the fabulous body lines created by these amazing dancers of the past. I always find that I find out something of interest that I did not know when I have a read of these books.
My dance medicine and science related books are accompanied on the shelves by journals like The Journal for Dance Medicine & Science – the journal from IADMS. My collection of anatomy books for dance offers useful information. Comparing older anatomy books with more recent publications is an interesting way to pass some time. We are so lucky today to have such clear images and details of the dancer’s anatomy and this helps to bring the learning to life. I have my favourite anatomy books that I tend to use all the time but then there are others that are great for particular sections about particular aspects of dancer anatomy. So I could not part with any of them even if they is a number of them.
Dance teaching and learning – oh yes another large collection of books and journals. Add to them the various fitness and health related publications about teaching and learning and these shelves are well laden. How we teach dance has evolved and developed through increased understanding about how people learn, psychological aspects of learning to dance, the impact of teaching on the dancer and safe dance practice, to mention but a few. The teaching of dance is no longer just about dance technique and steps. Teachers need to understand so many other aspects of teaching too so they can help their students to flourish as a person as well as a dancer. For me dance teachers are living in a very exciting time. The changes and developments to dance teaching and how we go about it can seem relentless but they are also amazing. Dance teaching has so much more to offer today. There are different methods and approaches to explore. Teachers can focus on specific student populations from very young children through to older adults. These different populations each need understanding of that stage of development and the effects on dance learning and performance. So there are always new things to learn to enhance our teaching abilities and skills.
Health education books are also found not far from the dance teaching and learning books. And why not? They too are about educating people. Health education has a lot of useful areas that can contribute to educating people about dance and especially healthy dance practice. I have found great connections over the years between my studies of dance, dance teaching and health education. Indeed it was the studying of health education that made me look at my own profession of dance through new eyes and ultimately led me to research ethical issues in the training and development of dance teaching in the private sector.
My books on ethics and philosophy also take up quite some space on the shelves. This section has gradually increased over the past decade or so and again there are texts here that I have thumbed through time and time again. There are a number of books here that I have earmarked to read again or read in-depth for the first time. There are also a few books in this section that I have been gradually reading over a long period of time. I read a couple of chapters then put the book down and return to it a few weeks later. I saw one book on the shelf that I have been reading for maybe over a year and I have still not got to the end. I have put it aside now so that I can pick up again on where I left off. I like books that you can read in stages. It is not like a fictional story where you need to follow the plot. Now that I have completed my PhD studies I can go back to my ethics books and read them in a more relaxed way and in my own time.
Conditioning books that include Pilates, stretching and other similar topics is a growing area. It is fascinating to enhance one’s knowledge about these fields and how they fit within today’s dance teaching world. There is a real fusion of body movement fields and I have explored a number of them over the years. This is useful knowledge and understanding for the work I do with dance teachers.
There is also a shelf for books that could sit on various shelves as they relate to several aspects of dance, health or ethics. This pot pourri of books have some really interesting texts.
Sorting out some of my books reminds me how much I have learned and enhanced my learning with books. We don’t get the knowledge just by owning the book. We have to read it, understand it and be able to apply it to our practice. Many of the books on my shelves have been written by wonderfully knowledgeable people in the worlds of dance, health and philosophy. Books give us the opportunity to tap into their knowledge and learn from them. I would not be without my books. I love to dip into them, read them and use them to add to my knowledge, understanding and skills.
Back to sorting out my books…..