In the Spotlight: Sterling Baca's Surprising (And Slightly Scary) Hobby
In January of 2016, we put a promising American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer named Sterling Baca on our cover as a "25 to Watch." Soon after, he shocked us by announcing he'd be leaving ABT to join Pennsylvania Ballet as a principal.
Since then, Baca's thrived at PAB, becoming one of their most talked about dancers and a face of Angel Corella's new vision for the company. We caught up with him for our "In the Spotlight" series, and he revealed a hobby that made our skin crawl. (No offense, Sterling!)
Name: Sterling Baca
Company: Pennsylvania Ballet
Hometown: Larkspur, Colorado
What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
That we don't eat!
PC Alexander Iziliaev
What other career would you like to try?
I've always had a passion for the natural sciences and wildlife, especially insects. I'd enjoy being an arachnologist, but at this point I see myself being a part of this wonderful art form for the rest of my life—with some spider searching on the side.
What was the last dance performance you saw?
ABT's Swan Lake, featuring one of my idols Marcelo Gomes. I watched it specifically to observe Marcelo's mastery of Siegfried to prepare for Angel Corella's production at Pennsylvania Ballet this March.
What's the most-played song on your phone?
Probably "Ride Out" by Schoolboy Q. I listen to music while at the gym, so it's usually hip-hop, rap or reggaeton.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
A nap, make-up, a long stretch, a short barre, a couple of jumps and five long, deep breaths.
What's your favorite book?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
Baca with his girlfriend and fellow PAB dancer, Nayara Lopes. Photo via NYC Dance Project.
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
Where did you last vacation?
Home in Colorado, visiting family.
What app do you spend the most time on?
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
I have had the privilege to dance with incredible dancers at ABT and PAB, and many international guest artists. But dancing with my girlfriend Nayara Lopes is special. Nothing beats looking into the eyes of true love on stage.
What's the first item on your bucket list?
Discovering a new species of spider.
What's your go-to cross training routine?
Swimming, gym time (upper and lower body) and floor barre.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
"The best thing you could do is just kinda mark the whole thing so you are able to get through it." I would rather fall on my face giving everything I had.
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
Performing Paris in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet with Alessandra Ferri during my final Met season with ABT. She taught me so much about how to be spontaneous on stage. The final scene, after Romeo kills me in the crypt, I positioned myself to be able to secretly observe her. As soon as I saw her wail in silence over Romeo's dead body, I couldn't help but begin to cry myself. That was the moment I realized what the quintessence of this art form is all about.
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.
Last night, American Ballet Theatre held its annual Fall Gala at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City. To celebrate ABT's artistic director Kevin McKenzie's 25 years of leadership, dancers from ABT's company, apprentices, studio company members and students from the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School took to the stage in Jessica Lang's The Gift, Alexei Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and Christopher Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions.
But we also love a good behind-the-scenes glimpse—especially when designer gowns are involved. And the dancers gave us plenty of glam looks to obsess over once the curtains closed. Ahead, see our favorite moments from gala straight from the dancers.
Last week Ballet West breezed into New York City's Joyce Theater from Salt Lake City. The dancers are excellent—especially the women (what else is new). The company brought five pieces including works by Gerald Arpino, Val Caniparoli and resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte.
Arpino's last work, made in 2004, is a duet called RUTH, Ricordi per Due ("remembrance for two"). It's about a man haunted by the memory of the woman he loved. Christopher Ruud is strong and sensitive as the man, and Arolyn Williams is riveting as the ghost of his beloved.
Val Caniparoli energizes his dancers with juicy movement, and always sticks to his theme. (He doesn't ramble, and let's face it, long rambling choreography is a problem these days.) In his premiere for Ballet West, Dances for Lou, he takes on the music of Lou Harrison, a composer known for his Eastern sounds and rhythms.
Photo by Filip VanRoe, courtesy Marquee
Your Saturday nights are about to go from "Netflix and chill" to "Marquee and chill." (Okay, maybe we'll need to coin a new phrase).
But seriously, the new streaming app Marquee Arts TV lets you curl up with Bolshoi Ballet's Swan Lake, Sylvie Guillem dancing Mats Ek's solo Bye, a dance film by Cullberg Ballet called 40 M Under, or a documentary about Alonzo King and LINES Ballet. Marquee unlocks a world of digital arts: dance, theater, opera, music, documentaries and film shorts that you can stream directly to your TV or mobile device.
When Simone Forti moved from California to New York City in 1960, she brought with her the improvisational approach of Anna Halprin. As one of the first five students in Robert Dunn's John Cage–inspired composition course (that led to Judson Dance Theater), she was a magnet for two others in that class: Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. This month the three reunite for Tea for Three, an evening of moving and talking at Danspace Project, Oct. 26–28. It's a chance to see how dance mavericks grow and change and mellow. Forti will also give "Body Mind World" workshops Oct. 19–20. danspaceproject.org.
When you're dancing for what feels like eight days a week, it takes more than just stretching to put your body back in order. You need a good rub down. Unfortunately, most of us don't exactly have the money to afford an on-call personal masseuse.
The solution: Self-massage, with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, elbows and anything else that can help loosen up your muscles. We dug into Dance Magazine's archives to find the best pieces of advice we've published on the topic. Follow these rules to get what you, ahem, knead out of self-massage.