Janet Eilber: TOP TEN BOOKS


A pivotal force in contemporary dance, Janet Eilber has danced at the White House, danced with Rudolf Nuryev, and most importantly, danced for Martha Graham. It was Graham who mentored Eilber as a young dancer – coaching her in her famous “contraction and release” method – eventually leading to Eilber’s appointment as Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, School, and Archive in 2005. She is still there, commissioning work that embodies and expands on Graham’s legacy. “Martha is compared to Picasso and Stravinksy because she made such a seismic shift,” Eilber has said. “Her discoveries were so radical.” That radicalism lives on, cemented and extended by Eilber’s leadership. Founded in 1926, the Martha Graham Dance Company is not only the oldest contemporary dance company in America, but one of its most dynamic, producing new work and interpretations of classics at a remarkable pace. Did we mention that Eilber also played the co-star and love interest to Rick Springfield in the 1984 movie, Hard to Hold?

Below are Janet Eilber’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


The Style of Movement 

 Deborah Ory and Ken Browar
Ken and Deborah have taken the dance world by storm with their ability to capture spectacular moves that are also filled with personality.  In this book, a pantheon of today’s greatest dance stars show how fashion and fabric can be so much more.  Costumes designed by Martha Graham side by side with Dior, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta and many more.
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Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs

Barbara Morgan
Eighty years from its first publication, this is still hands down the most compelling book of dance photos ever. They capture the genius in Graham’s early works of modernism that revolutionized dance. And in the photos of Graham, you can feel the depth of her animal charisma.

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Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern

Neil Baldwin
Cultural historian Neil Baldwin has done a deep dive into Graham’s early years to unpack her genius revolution as she infused American dance with modernism.   
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Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring

Annegret Fauser
Inside the creation of one of the 20th Century’s most iconic works of art with the genius collaborators – Copland, Graham and Noguchi.  The American conversation in the early 1940s, from regionalism and nationalism to immigration and racism, was poured into this modernist masterwork and vibrates within it still. 
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Wreck this Journal

Keri Smith
I love this book because it advocates for (and gives guidance in) subversive behavior.  It’s an interactive manual that invites a practice of destruction as a path to freedom of choice and creativity.  Favorite page: “Collect your pocket lint. Glue it here.”
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Slow Horses

Mick Herron
My work deals so much with the abstract and ephemeral that I lean toward plot-driven stuff where the good guys win. I recently discovered Mick Herron’s Slough House series – dealing with the rejects of MI5 in London. Laugh-out-loud humor woven into the mayhem.
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Oedipus Rex

The wait for Oedipus to grasp the truth is the essence of theatrical suspense -- especially in the context of our current relationship with the truth.  Recommended with a screening of the 1961 film of Night Journey, Martha Graham’s genius masterwork, which reimagines the Oedipus story through the eyes of Jocasta. 
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Ian McEwan
Another classic brilliantly transformed — a prequel to the tragedy of Hamlet – told by the eavesdropping fetus (Hamlet-to-be) in Gertrude’s womb.  The cross-referencing to the original is brilliant.
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Drawing on the Surface of Dance

Annie-B Parson
An illustrated walk through the brain of one of today’s greatest choreographers.  Annie-B has created for everyone from the Graham Company to David Byrne.  Her multifaceted theater works are absorbed through the skin rather than the intellect.  Don’t miss the deck of cards in the back – a tool for composition of any sort.
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The Lincoln Highway

Amor Towles
This irresistible American road trip in the mid-1950s surprises and engages with every turn of the road while somehow evoking other classic quests and archetypes -- from Huck Finn to Odysseus.
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