Brittany Woolsey's article about
Jeff Slayton's autobiography
Dancing Toward Sanity


Press release for Dancing Toward Sanity


Jeff Slayton writes for
The Dance History Project of Southern California
about his life in Dance - August 2012



Reviews for Dancing Toward Sanity:


 “Once I finally started your book, I was not able to put it down. It took great courage and determination to write it I am sure. I admire your openness and candor...and writing are becoming a writer as well as choreographer & dancer!!! I can't begin to comment on your life other than to say that it is still hard to understand how you could have danced so marvelously through all of that! In any event, I couldn't be happier that you are where you are now...and admire you tremendously for what it has taken to get to where you are today.”

 Pat Finot (Colleague from California State University, Long Beach) August 2014

 “The Tale of a Survivor - Jeff Slayton not only survived a troubled history that would have defeated many, if not most, but also achieved an amazing career as a dancer and choreographer. Living as a sober alcoholic, he has found love and the tools to live a serene, enriched life. He tells his harrowing life story with amazing, heartfelt detail in a book well worth reading. I recommend it highly.”

 Clifton Snider September 2014

 “Through his love of movement - I was very touched by Jeff Slayton's journey in the book, "Dancing Toward Sanity". Our childhood shapes our adulthood. For Jeff, it was a very difficult childhood with both his parents abusing him. Compounding this abuse was the realization that he was gay at a time where he would be ostracized by his family. Through his love of movement, Jeff left his home behind and was thrust into the modern dance world. His talent for dance and choreography opened the doors of opportunity to travel the world and work with amazing artists. His childhood trauma, however, became his undoing and Jeff found solace in a bottle. The road to sobriety is a long and difficult one. The road to healing his heart beyond difficult. In the end, Jeff has recovered from alcoholism, and through intensive therapy, has begun to love. It is a beautifully written book and I highly recommend it. ”

 Ona McDonough November 2014

 “A very good read. - So frank! So honest! A very good read. ”

 Dreaded Dancer September 2014



Reviews for The Prickly Rose: A Biography of Viola Farber


 “I read it hungrily, lapping up the dance history of the second half of the 20th century.”

“..... it helps us to remember her and understand the forces that made her such a powerful and enigmatic figure, onstage and in the classroom.”

 Elizabeth Zimmer, Dancemagazine, Preferred Book List , 2006.

“Slayton captures the complexities of Farber's personality—her passion, her commitment to dance, and the insecurities that plagued her. He notes a cruel side to her that sometimes caused friction within the company, but makes clear that she never asked anything of anyone else that she didn’t also ask of herself doubly. It is this aspect—that she often "scratched" anyone who came to close to her—that sparked the title of the book.”

“From insights into the realities of the creative life to the details of Farber's fascinating career and contribution, The Prickly Rose is a good read for anyone interested in either life or art.”

 Reviewed by Robin Ireland - ForeWord CLARION reviews - 2006

“For the past 2 days I have immersed myself in The Prickly Rose: A Biography of Viola Farber by Jeff Slayton. The dance world of the 70s was an astonishing hotbed of creativity, searching, learning and DOING. From the moment I saw Viola, I knew she was a great artist, choreographer and performer, on par with ANY famous classical dancer. I would do anything she asked, and trusted her completely. Somehow, her energy inspired achievements more often than failure, and the impossible became possible. I'm so grateful to have been a peripheral part of that world, and to have known her, Larry Clark, June Finch, the indomitable Margaret Craske and my very dear ballet teacher, Peter Saul, who called me his "little academician" because of my ever so earnest approach to technique.

If you are looking for summer reading which will bring you to a world full of life, you MUST read this book.

 Facebook review by Josephine, July 2014

“ Radical Dancing at the Edge of the Century - In the early 1970s there was an enormous interest in modern dance, and many of us had enough disposable income to indulge and participate. This gem of a book by Jeff Slayton brings those days back with grace and dignity. For those of us lucky enough to have studied with Ms. Farber, each page will have a reference which will elicit a smile, a sigh, a nod to a time that was too full and too brief. Days in sweaty studios, nights behind bright lights blurred into a sameness at the century's close, with the exception being Viola's brilliant mind and remarkable technique.

Jeff Slayton presents Viola's remarkable teaching and choreographic style with the same clarity as those classes: Embellishments are unnecessary to the receptive mind. Read and be transported to a time before dancers "competed" like gladiators for the American public. The drive was not fame or popularity, but moving the observer into an alternate perspective. Viola Farber made dancers and a kind of dancing that was unique then and perhaps, still is now.

This book should be read by any serious student of dance, music, art and theater. This book should be read by anyone curious about avant garde trends in culture. I am grateful to have experienced it firsthand and to Mr. Slayton for returning them to us in The Prickly Rose. review by Josephine August 2014

“ A Biography Written from the Heart & Shared Experience - I've just begun to read The Prickly Rose: A Biography of Viola Farber and am enjoying Jeff's writing style. I was acquainted with Viola during the time that she was a seminal dancer in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and I was studying and later understudying with the company. Jeff has given this biography much context and background information along and stories about Viola, about Jeff and about their shared dance and life adventures. He has shed light on Viola's early years and her beginnings at Black Mountain College. I also danced with Katherine Litz and appreciated the information that Jeff included about her role in Viola's dance training. I look forward to reading further. Thank you, Jeff! review by Melinda Isaacson May 2014

“A remarkable woman - Jeff Slayton brings an era and a remarkable woman to life in this engrossing memoir of Viola Farber. The Prickly Rose keeps Ms. Farber's memory and artistry alive for future generations. A must read for anyone interested in dance. review by Reba Linker March 2014