Erica Lall credits her tap dancing for the musical sensitivity of her American Ballet Theatre performances. From a wili in Giselle ("I love petit allégro," she says) to a soloist in Marcelo Gomes' contemporary AfterEffect, Lall deftly accents a striking range of choreography. Precise and expressive, she floats on the music, never overstressing the beat. As a Porcelain Princess in Alexei Ratmansky's staging of Aurora's Wedding last spring, she mastered the variation's minute, detailed movements and relentless pointework with a delicate, doll-like charm.

A former competition dancer—Starbound, Showstopper—the 19-year-old fell in love with ballet as a student at Houston Ballet Academy. "Tap was my favorite," she says, "but I loved the challenge of ballet, the refinement of the movement, how nice it felt to finally achieve it." Lall transferred to ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2013, joining the main company in 2016. But she still takes tap and contemporary classes at Broadway Dance Center during company breaks "to feel more grounded."

As a dancer of color in the same company as Misty Copeland, Lall knows she can be a model for young dancers. "I was the only dancer of color in my class," she recalls. "I think things are changing; I want to be a great example." Spoken like a ballerina in the making.


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