University Press embraces the world of dance

By John Fleming
Published March 11, 2007

The University Press of Florida has a somewhat surprising specialty. Along with its volumes on Florida history and academic subjects, the press is one of the leading U.S. publishers of dance books, including the recently issued Dance Writings and Acts of Light: Martha Graham in the 21st Century.

"In the late 1990s, we were looking over the most successful books we had, and Gretchen Warren's Classical Ballet Technique came up again and again and again," said UPF director Meredith M. Babb, who was then editor in chief. "I said, let's expand this list. No one else is there."

Today, the dance list includes 20 books, most on technique and geared to teachers and students, though the press recently published the autobiography of Russian ballerina Irina Baronova.

The ballet book by Warren, a dance professor at the University of South Florida, was published in 1989 and remains popular.

"The very top seller on our whole list is The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook, which has sold close to 90,000 copies, and right on its heels is Classical Ballet Technique," Babb said. "I can't tell you how many times it has been reprinted."

Debra McWaters, head of the Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa, has a book coming out with UPF, The Fosse Style, that Babb expects to do well.

The press has been shrewd in picking up classics that went out of print, such as a collection of Arlene Croce's criticism, Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the New Yorker, and Toni Bentley's memoir, Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal.

For information, see www.upf.com.

John Fleming, Times performing arts critic


The books

Dance Writings

By Edwin Denby

University Press of Florida, 608 pages, $29.95

Acts of Light: Martha Graham in the 21st Century

Photographs by John Deane, text by Nan Deane Cano

University Press of Florida, 104 pages, $39.95

Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints

By Joan Acocella

Pantheon, 524 pages, $30