Dancing mouseAlthough I usually concentrate on theatre and music on this blog, I want to branch out a bit this month as I look at possibilities for experiencing the arts (and books) while on vacation. A version of this series first appeared on a blog I used to have, back in 2011.

A few years ago, my writing colleague, Joanna, presented a series of blog posts about the connection between books and vacation destinations. Her posts got me thinking about vacations, and how I love it when at least part of my vacation involves some form of the arts.

As an advocate for children’s involvement in the arts from an early age, and as an advocate for reading — at any age — it seemed natural to create a series that would celebrate the arts, books, and vacations, all rolled into one.

For a child who is passionate about dance, there are many dance camps and week-long dance intensives offered throughout the dance world. Probably every ballet company has some form of youth ballet program that has a summer component. Such an experience, such as the Los Angeles Summer Ballet Intensive or the London Children’s Ballet Summer School, could be a dream come true for an eager young dancer.

Such experiences are not limited to ballet, either — children and youth in Vancouver, for example, can take part in the summer camps of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society, keeping alive another dance tradition. (Scroll down on their home page for links to information about the summer camps.)

For something a little less intense, in which the whole family can participate, there are summer performances, often outdoors. Eagan, Minnesota, is the home of the Caponi Art Park, where there will be a variety of performances over the summer. Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatchewan, Canada, presents First Nations dance performances, which provide an opportunity to learn about the history and dance of the original people in North America. Making such a performance a part of a vacation (or attending such a performance in one’s home city) can add greatly to the entire holiday.

Part of the fun of a vacation is the preparation beforehand, and an arts vacation (or a vacation that includes the arts) is no exception. Reading books about dance is an excellent way to prepare for a vacation that will include a ballet performance, a tap or jazz festival, street dancing, or a Gaelic mod.

Books about the ballet are easy to come by. Books about other forms of dancing are less accessible, but may be found. It’s good to make a visit to the library to prepare for a DANCE vacation. Don’t limit yourself to traditional kids’ books!

Going back a few decades to a book that was out of print and is now back in print, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild will give kids a peek into the rather unusual lives of three children in the care of their absentee uncle, attending a school in which ballet and theatre played a huge role.

A great picture book to introduce Native American/First Nations dance is Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Explore the Chinese culture with the picture book Dragon Dancing by Carole Lexa Schaefer.

The following are books I haven’t read from cover to cover, but I’ve dipped into them enough to know that they will be good.

To read about dancers from different eras, different countries, and different forms of dance, check out Dynamic Women Dancers by Anne Dublin. I wish there were a corresponding book about dynamic men dancers. (It’s not easy to find books about dance that will appeal to boys.)

Get an introduction to hip-hop with Xtreme Dance: Hip-Hop by S.L. Hamilton.

Learn about all aspects of dance, its history and its varied forms around the world, in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Book called Dance.

Did you know that people in wheelchairs can dance? The book Dancing Wheels by Patricia McMahon shows how. The book is about a real-life dance company called Dancing Wheels. Wonderful!

I hope this has whetted your appetite for dance books and the possibility of dance-related activities when on vacation. From Dance, we will move to the Visual Arts — the next post in this series will appear next Wednesday.

And here are links to Joanna’s blog posts about books and vacations and vacations and books — please click on these links. You’ll be glad you did! Books and Places, Part 1; Books and Places, Part 2; and French beach-reads.

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