The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir

The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir by Kenny Pearl

About the Book

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.

FriesenPress, Victoria B.C. Canada. Publication Date- October 2015.ISBN- 9781460262702 Publication Date- October 2015.

Kenny PearlAbout the Author

Kenny Pearl began training in dance in Toronto at eighteen with David Earle and Patricia Beatty, and at the National Ballet School. He moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from the University of Toronto with a BA in English literature. He lived there for 13 years, dancing with the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He has taught often in New York at the schools of the Graham and Ailey companies, and at the Juilliard School of Music. Back in Toronto, after a season with the Stratford Theatre Festival (1981), he was artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre (1983 – 1987). He taught for 15 years at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and has been at Ryerson University since 2002.

For full Biography-


For full reviews –

Media and Author Reviews

“Vastly enjoyable . . . I read the book in one go. Pearl had me hooked from the first page.” -Paula Citron – Senior Dance Writer, The Globe and Mail

“Kenny Pearl has crafted a vivid and absorbing evocation of one dancer’s life over the span of two important decades in New York, offering not only the honest story of his own awakening as an artist but also a series of insightful, sharp-focused portraits of the great artists he worked with—Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Pearl Lang.” – Max Wyman – Arts Critic (1968-2001), The Vancouver Sun

“The Dance Gods resonates for this reason in particular – it charts an extraordinary period of time for an exceptionally gifted man, all the while maintaining Pearl as a beautifully ordinary and extremely relatable personality. An absolute page-turner and a brilliant tribute to a pivotal time in modern dance.” – Molly Johnson – Writer, The Dance Current Magazine

 “Kenny Pearl’s The Dance Gods is the sweaty, gritty, insightful story of his amazing dance career . . . a compelling memoir.”  – Carol Anderson – Author, Chasing the Tale of Contemporary Dance

 Reader Reviews

“Writing with eloquence, wit, and tremendous honesty, Kenny Pearl details his harrowing and exalted path to becoming a dancer.” – Peggy Baker, Dancer/Choreographer

“Yes, I did read this book over the period of two days, it was that good. The writing is beautiful and honest; it put me in the shoes of an awkward young boy; it filled my heart with the hopes and dreams of a dancer; and it fed my mind with loads of facts and tidbits about dance, hippies and New York! If you have an artist in the family – give them this book. If you are an artist, give this book to someone in your family!” – Nova Bhattacharya, dancer, choreographer

“This book had me captivated from the first page. A great account of one dancer’s career, in New York City during the heyday of the Martha Graham Dance Company as well as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This is a story filled with inspiration, challenges, and finding one’s artistic voice. So inspiring. So moving.” – Anisa Tejpar, dancer, choreographer.

“It is just a wonderful book – I couldn’t put it down. It’s written so well and naturally – it’s personal and insightful, beautifully descriptive, passionate and compassionate, wry and full of fun, and the story line is terrific.”

 “Enjoying every unfolding. Thanks for the honesty, for digging deep, sharing yourself, finding expression in words.”

Print media

The Dance Current- Jan/Feb 2016 (see article below)

The Dance Current - Dec 2015


 1- Why, after all these years, did your write your book?

2- Why did you finish your story in 1980 and not include your journey up until the present?

3- What was it like working so closely with Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham?

4- How has New York City changed since you lived there?

5- Are you still close with any of the personalities in your story?

6- You write about experiencing many painful injuries. How is your body doing now, after 35 more years in the dance profession?

7-You lost your home a number of times in very shocking ways. How has that affected you?

8- How has working with two great figures in modern dance affected you?

9- What was the dance landscape like in Toronto at the time you left for New York?

10-Why did you leave?


Paperback and Hardcover copies of The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir can be ordered from (Canada), (US), (Canada), and

The ebook can be ordered from FriesenPress BookstoreAmazon.caChapters/IndigoKindleKobo, iTunes, and Google Play.


  • 288 pages
  • Black & White – Paperback
  • 6 X 9 inches
  • Hardcover is available at
  • eBook is available at,, etc.

FriesenPress, Victoria, B.C. Canada. Publication Date – October 2015.

  • 978-1-4602-6269-6 – Hardcover
  • 978-1-4602-6270-2 – Paperback
  • 978-1-4602-6271-9 – eBook


  • PER003000 – PERFORMING ARTS / Dance / General
  • BIO005000 – BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Entertainment &
  • Performing Arts
  • PER013000 – PERFORMING ARTS / Theatre / Broadway and Musical

 Distributed by INGRAM

 *For consignment orders, please contact the author:

Kenny Pearl – 416-462-9850 –