High School (MCD, $27), perhaps unsurprisingly, is like one of Tegan and Sara’s songs in book form: intimate yet vivid, urgent and animated. Yet their memoir is not only about music, although it does culminate with the duo landing their first record deal, which would lead to nine full-length albums. The twins tell their stories of growing up in ‘90s Calgary in alternating chapters, narrating their teenage confl icts, coming out, fi nding allies, having unrequited crushes, and discovering music. The songwriters’ candid prose style perfectly evokes that time in life when everything was too much, when every moment seemed like a crisis, but also when one desperately needed to know that they were not alone. High School is a queer coming-out-of-age story, a messy journey of adolescence, and a book I wish my teenage self had read.
An extremely underrated aspect of dance performance is the costuming. Placing a dancer in loose, flowing robes as opposed to tights and a dance belt changes the quality of movement, power, and feeling of a piece. Ken Browar and Deborah Ory of NYC Dance Project have a new book, The Style of Movement (Rizzoli,
$75), which combines their groundbreaking dance photography with costume designs from some of the most important names in fashion today, including Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Valentino (who also wrote the introduction to the book). In an interview, the authors said, “No one can move, or bring life to an item of clothing quite like a dancer. Even when you see a child put on a dress—they twirl in circles to see how it moves with them.” By working directly with the dancers to capture their own unique styles (both fashion and movement), Browar and Ory capture the spirits and authentic joy of the dancers, as well demonstrating that fashion is not a static art form but rather one as dynamic and vital as the dancers who bring them to life.
“I want to do that,” said choreographer Mark Morris at age 9, asking for dance lessons after seeing the flamenco star José Greco perform. Enrolling at Vera Flowers Dance Arts in Seattle, he was “full-on committed,” learning both folk dances and ballet—and soon teaching other youngsters and making up dances. Joining Koleda, a Balkan dance collective, brought “many life-changing ideas and experiences: queer power, independence, dancing and singing together, rhythm, and a never ending interest in the musics, dances, and cultures of the world.” Years later, when he formed the Mark Morris Dance Group and started his Dance Center, he recreated those two formative institutions his own way. Out Loud (Penguin Press, $30)—co-written with novelist/musician Wesley Stace—is a fantastic memoir. It captures Morris’s voice: enthusiastic, honest, always curious, sweet, and funny (there are laugh-out loud asides on every page). Topics abound: from the importance of music in his dances (L’Allegro, The Hard Nut, the new Pepperland); directing opera; his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Lou Harrison, Mikhail Barishnikov, and Howard Hodgkin; keeping a troupe together and starting a school; his travels and friendships. Mark Morris has led a wonderful and creative life: hard-working, inspired, and inspiring.