The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir by Kenny Pearl — A Review

The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir by Kenny Pearl

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

Summary from goodreads:  When Kenny Pearl arrived in New York City, determined to succeed as a dancer, he was penniless, friendless and jobless. His memories shine against the backdrop of the turbulent ’60s and ’70s, including Vietnam War protests, the military draft and the rampant crime that once plagued the city. From humble beginnings in the hippie-populated Lower East Side, to performing with the greats of the New York modern dance scene-he danced with the companies of both Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey-Pearl’s life is one of tenacity, hard work and passion. This is the engaging story of the hurdles he faced on his unique journey and the remarkable people he met along the way….

When Mr. Pearl queried my blog, he said in response to one of the criteria in my review policy, “Yes- there are superheroes in it, if you consider, as I do, people who take super risks to reach the top of the dance world, as heroes.”

Well, I do consider those people superheroes. Have you ever witnessed a professional dance class? They’re bloody agonizing. And the dancers go full out, on move after move, trying to reach this illusive thing called perfection. To top it off, they do it on top of sore muscles and bruised and battered feet. It’s absolutely incredible!

I used to dance, when I was a kid. I loved it! There is something about moving your body to music and trying to defy gravity that brings such a sense of joy. This memoir made me remember all of those wonderful hours spent staring at myself in a mirror, doing twirl after twirl, leap after leap. My dancing days ended way too soon, but I was able to pursue my artistic side through music as a pianist. I felt such a kinship with Mr. Pearl as he talked about the need to express himself, and the physical ailments he experienced when he couldn’t do so.

His story is so passionate and genuine, and I’m sure many, many people can relate to it. From a wide-eyed idealist as an eighteen-year-old kid in Canada to a seasoned dancer in New York, Kenny Pearl lets us peer into the world of a professional dancer during the heyday of modern dance. One of the dances he speaks a lot about in the book is Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Here is an excerpt, Sinner Man from 2016 (I think):

Pearl danced with both Alvin Ailey’s and Martha Graham’s dance companies. If you don’t know who Martha Graham is, or even if you do, here is another little gem I’d like to share with you:

If you like dance at all. If you like memoirs at all. If you like the 60s and 70s at all. This is for you. Seriously, pick it up today, and prepare to be inspired!

Happy reading, lovelies!


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