Choreographer Hope Boykin on her favorite books and breaking into dance

Choreographer Hope Boykin on her favorite books and breaking into dance
Hope Boykin. Photo: Steve Vaccariello.

Educator, creator, mover and motivator Hope Boykin corresponded with Ballerina Book Club about her favorite reads, how books relate to dancing and her advice for someone who wants to pursue a creative field.

When we spoke to her, Boykin was fresh off the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company premiere of her piece “For What Is It All Worth?” and engaged in a three-week bubble residency at the Modern Accord Depot.

“It is exciting but tough,” she said of her residency, which will see the creation of new works. “Some of the hardest work I think I have done.”

Read on below for book picks and insights!

Photo: Hope Boykin.

What are your favorite books?

I love reading books that help me help myself. But I often need to be reminded to do that, LOL — help myself, that is.

I love everything by Jane Austen. Yes, that’s right.

I love audiobooks, too, and after the rage of “Bridgeton” on Netflix, I have added Julia Quinn to my list. I have almost listened to every book she’s written. Who knew I’d like romance?

Agatha Christie is another favorite; I even have a second-edition printing of “Spiders’ Web.”

Maybe this should have been first, but “The Bible.”

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?

The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield!!

Pictured, as told to Ballerina Book Club by Hope Boykin: “Literally what I am packing for the #BoykinBubble!" Photo: Hope Boykin.
Pictured, as told to Ballerina Book Club by Hope Boykin: “Literally what I am packing for the #BoykinBubble!” Photo: Hope Boykin.

What’s your reading style? Where/what time of day?

I love to read just before bed, but only fiction at night.

What was your relationship to reading like as a kid vs. now?

My mother is a retired educator, so reading anything felt like work as a kid. I grew to like it only when I truly was able to choose what I wanted to read and realized it was only for me.

How has reading informed your dance career?

I think the various styles of storytelling have informed my choreographic pursuits. I have also taken a memoir writing class, which continues to give me new ways to create work.

How did you get into dance as a profession?

My mom sent me to dance and gymnastics when I was three. I jumped on everything and broke most things as a young superhero in my house.

What advice would you offer to someone trying to break into your field as a dancer, choreographer, poet or scholar?

Anyone who is interested in being a creative should find any way to make the work they love. The thought of choosing only one, because of what someone else thinks, is ridiculous. Do all of the things you like, and the one, or two, or many loves you find will be rewarding in the end.

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What’s a passion outside of your public persona that people might be surprised to know about?

Hmmm, I’m a real techie. I plan to win an Oscar, and I have a full production studio in my apartment.

Favorite book store?

Right now, it is the Apple (Book) Store, as these audiobooks are filling my phone.

This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.


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Top Image: Hope Boykin. Photo: Steve Vaccariello.