“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.
One of our foremost film scholars, Jeanine Basinger founded both the department of film studies at Wesleyan—now ranked among the country’s top ten film schools—as well as Wesleyan’s celebrated cinema archives. She’s also the author of popular, accessible books on film, including The Star Machine and American Cinema: One Hundred Years of Filmmaking, the companion book for a ten-part PBS series. Her new book, The Movie Musical! (Knopf, $45), crowns her achievements with a comprehensive survey of the Hollywood musical from the end of the silent era through today. Written with her trademark enthusiasm and wit, the text offers analyses of both iconic and overlooked films, profiles stars ranging from Fred Astaire to Ann-Margaret to Elvis, and includes lavish spreads of both black-and-white and color photos.
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer for criticism, Emily Nussbaum writes about TV like the art that it is. Gathered from some fifteen years of work for The New Yorker, New York, and other publications—along with several new pieces—the essays in I Like to Watch (Random House, $28) wholeheartedly celebrate television and guide us to new ways of looking at it. Arguing that TV demands more than just watching, Nussbaum outlines her struggle with “prestige television”—an awakening she traces to Buffy the Vampire Slayer—and questions the breakdown of shows into high and low-brow. She also examines programming in the light of #MeToo, explores how fans distort their favorite shows, profiles influential figures such as Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy, assesses the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers, and more.