Dance is important for all people, especially children. Children need to know that their bodies are wonderful instruments that can bring joy to themselves and to others.
Bill T. Jones and I met in the mid-eighties when we were each working on projects for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Bill, and his partner, Arnie Zane, were choreographing a ballet for the Ailey company. I was writing and photographing a young adult book called REACHING FOR DREAMS: A BALLET FROM FIRST REHEARSAL TO OPENING NIGHT. (By the way, you can see that book by going either to backinprint.com, amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com)
I have long admired Bill's work as both a dancer and choreographer. He's daring and exciting and an extremely honest artist. His dances are both beautiful and thought-provoking. Kids respond to qualities such as these. When my editor asked me what subject I wanted to do for my next book, my answer was quick: modern dance with Bill T. Jones.
So began a journey into the art of collaborating, of creating, of love. In a large studio, my assistant and I set lights and rolled out a huge sheet of white paper where Bill would dance. We had bowls of fruit, classical and native American flute music, and tons and tons of film.
Bill's mom came along to lend good karma to the event.
As Bill warmed up, I checked lights and readied my cameras. I felt like dancing. Bill has that effect on people. Earlier, we decided what we wanted to include in the photos: body parts, warm ups, jumps, and those wonderful, quirky shapes that Bill is famous for.
Bill danced with his body and I danced with my camera. He'd leap. BAMB! I'd shoot. Having this gifted, beautiful, caring man dance just for me [actually he danced for you] is a time I will cherish forever.
The New York Times calls the book "a child's catalogue of pleasures and possibilities: 'I can fly high and soar through the air. But I've got to come down and dance on the ground.'"
Publisher's Weekly says, "The celebrated dancer Jones and photo-essayist Kuklin step out in high style in this marvelously designed picture book. The minimal text is honed to the point of poetry. Striking as the text is, the visuals win the highest accolades."
The Horn Book says, "The spare and poetic text moves in balanced harmony with the figure or figures on each page. With its powerful and beautiful pictures demonstrating the joy of movement, this book can make just about everybody -- boys and girls, young and old-want to kick up their heels and dance."
The Riverbank Review reads, "The joy of movement leaps off the page. The human desire to dance leaps into the air with the sentence that opens and closes the book: 'I want to dance.'... Buy this book to enjoy with children, and then leave it open on your coffee table for the enjoyment of adults."
The MultiCultural Review says, "Read the book, dance the book, put the book down, and make up your own unique movements, and our static culture will find its buried yearning for movement. This is a read and do book, but more importantly it communicates to young people that a man's expressive moving body is something that exists and is not only acceptable but also celebrated."
Dance has won a number of awards,including the Boston-Globe Horn Book honor, the Riverbank Review Book of the Year (1999), the Charlotte Zolotow highly recommended award.