Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
– Voltaire

summer books for dancers

Dancers speak with their movements rather than words, but as artists, we dancers can certainly appreciate a good book…dance books, in particular!

With vacation season under way and the competitive season in full force, you might find yourself with a bit of downtime to catch up on some summer reading.

Whether you’re sinking your toes into the hot sand, or passing time on a plane en route to the next comp, this book list especially for dancers, will keep your BRAIN in shape.

These recommendations are not technique or syllabus books, but dance books that will inspire, delight and challenge your imagination and your own dance goals.


Bonus! Giveaway Contest

We’ve got a giveaway contest for one of these fantastic books, Ballroom: Dance & Glamour. Fill out the contest form below and enter to win your own copy. (Subscribe to our newsletter to qualify and get 5 entries into the raffle!)   **Contest has ended-thanks for participating!**


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ballroom dance glamour book cover

1. Ballrooom: Dance & Glamour by Jonathan S. Marion

This book is a truly beautiful peek into our sparkly dancesport universe. Author Jonathan Marion has captured the heart, soul and dedication of some of your favorite dancers and dance legends through photos and captions covering a 10 year span.

Click here for the full DanceSport Place review of Ballroom: Dance & Glamour.

Remember to enter our giveaway above ^^^ for a chance to win your OWN copy!


Bios are my personal fave books to read, because basically…people are FASCINATING!

How do they do what they do?! How do they overcome obstacles, make it through the ups and downs and climb (or dance!) their way to the top?

Enquiring minds want to know! Check out these true stories that will spark your own motivation.


ballroom! book cover

2. Ballroom!: Obsession and Passion Inside the World of Competitive Dance by Sharon Savoy

Successful dancers may look glamorous to the outside world, but the road to success isn’t all glitter and sparkles.

Ms. Savoy details her life of dedication to dance, from her early years as a Balanchine ballerina to reigning 3x World & 4x Blackpool  Theatre Arts Champion. A fascinating autobiography! Read more about it our detailed review here.

(and hear from Ms. Savoy herself in this DSP video interview)




taking the lead cover

3. Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion by Derek Hough

Talented dancers are everywhere. The standards have become so high these days, that incredible precision and polished performances have become the norm, rather than the exception.

But every once in a while, someone comes along who is simply GENIUS at what they do. There’s just an inexplicable magical mix of talent, charisma and magnetism. For me, DWTS dancer and choreographer, Derek Hough is one of those supernovas in a sky of twinkling stars.  #fangirl here!

Although Mr. Hough is still quite young, one might think he’s not “seasoned” enough to talk about life lessons. But, he’s packed a lot of living into his years and has inspirational insight to share with dancers and non-dancers alike.



ginger-rogers-book-cover  4. Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner
and Smarter CEO by Patrice Tanaka

One of the best parts of being a ballroom dance instructor is not only seeing the profound effect dance has on someone’s carriage, physicality and technical aptitude, but seeing how dance actually changes MANY facets of their life…from confidence to style to relationships.

When you think about it, it’s pretty rad to see that dance changes lives! 

That’s exactly what happened to the author of this book, Patrice Tanaka. A successful businesswoman who found that what she learned on the dance floor, taught her lessons that applied beyond the ballroom.


Training books:

the creative habit book cover  5. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twlya Tharp

Emmy and Tony award winner, Twlya Tharp is an America’s greatest dance choreographers. When it comes to creativity, Ms. Tharp’s cup seems to runneth over. If you’re a dance teacher, you know that choreography can be mentally exhausting (especially when you’re doing multiple routines, so a variety of ability levels!), so I was intrigued to find out how Ms. Tharp has managed to stay at the top of her creative game for decades.

In the book, she explains that it all comes down to HABIT. (which is really the same “secret” for excelling at anything!)

The invaluable insight Tharp shares in the book can be applied to ANY creative endeavor. Whether you’re pursuing the highest ranks as a professional competitor, a local dance studio owner, a passionate pro-am competitor, or have any lofty goals in a creative pursuit, this book is a great outline of how to develop habits for success.



dance without stress cover  6. Dance Without Stress: Maximiliaan Winkelhuis

In our competitive days, Erik and I had the pleasure of training with Maximiliaan (get a taste of his work here) on the performance/mental side of our competitive dancing. If you haven’t considered a mental trainer as part of your training team, you’re missing out on the “secret weapon” most professional athletes have in their arsenal.

At the time we were competing, Max published his first book “Dance to Your Maximum”, and innovative workbook for competitors to train their brains the same way they train their bodies. (If you can find a copy, grab it!)

Now, Max has released his second book, “Dance Without Stress”, a must-read for any serious competitor.

The book provides practical “stress rescues”, checklists and how to become an ALERT dancer, rather than stressed dancer.



toughness training book cover  7. The New Toughness Training for Sports by James E. Loehr

I tell my students all the time that dancing at competitions is not just about practicing to do well at dancing…no, you must also practice COMPETING. Like every athlete, the secret to competition success lies greatly in the mind.

This book by well-known sport psychologist, James Loehr, is an invaluable source for dancers (or any athlete) to hone their skills and get their “game-face” on.

One of my favorite parts of the book is about how to use visualization to enhance your performance. I wrote more about how this book has helped me in this blog.


Have a favorite dance book? Share it with us in the comments, and maybe we’ll add it to our summer reading list.