A couple years ago, I decided to gather some of my writings over the last four decades into a book. I selected only the pieces that I felt might have some resonance today, with the aim of contributing something to the general conversation on dance. They include reviews, interviews, essays, profiles, memoirs, and blog posts. I wrote little intros to each piece from the deep past, connecting that time to this time, and giving a sense of my state of mind when I wrote it. The book is divided chronologically into chapters, decade by decade, starting with the 60s. Although I became a dance critic, my writing does not attempt to be “objective.” It is unashamedly subjective—since I spent years being a dancer/choreographer as well as a writer. But I think every dance writer is subjective, and that’s part of the point of my book. Some of the recurring themes are the crossover between ballet and modern, diversity in dance, the impact of AIDS, the question of a critic’s responsibility, and, in the last chapter, how the internet has changed dance journalism. I titled the book Through the Eyes of a Dancer because I want to encourage other dancers to write.
WHERE TO BUY IT
It is available in some Barnes & Noble stores.
For online sales, go to the Wesleyan University Press website and key in W301 for a discount code. You will get a 30 percent discount, similar to what you would get on Amazon.com. At the Wesleyan site you can click on the Table of Contents to get an idea of the span of the book.
“It is a bran tub full of goodies into which to dip…She writes fluently, intelligently and with insight…expressing her opinions on a wide range of subjects with refreshing clarity and asperity in an elegant style. Although I was initially dubious, I found this was a book I couldn’t put down, and read it at a single sitting.”
—Mike Dixon, Dance Europe, January 2014
“Her critical responses are both raw and elegant, betraying the influence of her heroine Susan Sontag, who believed in lingering over the ‘sensuous surface’ of art.”
—Kathleen Riley, Times Literary Supplement, 1/10/14
“Perron’s writing describes a dancer’s life with passion and a performance’s details as if it were a living, breathing organism. Perron’s love for the art is evident…. And while Perron says this book offers only ‘a few slices’ of what she has seen and done, each piece is emotional, moving, beautiful and articulate.”
—Tara Creel, Deseret News, 11/30/13
“Like good dance, Perron’s accounts, insights, and questions resonate in the aftermath. What a gift that she wove her paths together so seamlessly, and that we have this provocative collection of musings.” —Carolyn Merritt, Dance Chronicle, Summer 2014
“Perron’s reviews describe the actions of performances so completely you will feel that you are witnessing them first-hand.”
—Publishers Weekly, 9/09/13
“As an experienced dancer and choreographer, Perron writes with authority on the philosophy and social constructs that ushered in the postmodern era. Perron offers insight into the greatest talents of our time: Katherine Dunham, Lucinda Childs, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sara Rudner, Sankai Juku, Wendy Whelan, Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin, Julio Bocca, Crystal Pite, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and many more.”
—Kathy Adams, Salt Lake Tribune, 11/30/13
“Equal parts memoir, op-ed and critique, Through the Eyes of a Dancer is a fascinating read for those interested in dance and journalism.”
—Jenny Dalzell, Dance Magazine blog, 11/13/13
“Wendy Perron has led a distinguished life as a writer, editor, choreographer and dancer, which included dancing with the seminal post-modern choreographer Trisha Brown. Now, she can add author to that list, with the publication of her collection of writings, Through the Eyes of a Dancer.
—Nancy Wozny, Arts+Culture Texas, 11/25/13
I like to combine book readings/signings with discussions. Here are comments from social media on my readings:
“I had the opportunity to hear Wendy Perron read excerpts from her new book last night. She was articulate, insightful and moved the audience to tears.”
—Michael Bearden, director of Ballet Arkansas, after my reading in Salt Lake City
“Just back from a reading by the divine Wendy Perron of her stellar new book, Through the Eyes of a Dancer, a fascinating, opinionated walk through five decades of change and innovation in the dance world. Eye opening and thought provoking.”
—Andrew Edmonson, press dept, Houston Ballet