A.I.M Dancer and House Teacher Gianna Theodore is Letting Joy Lead the Way

January 26, 2024

In 2018, after Gianna Theodore saw A.I.M by Kyle Abraham perform at The Joyce Theater, everything snapped into perspective. “I called my mom and said, ‘I have to dance for this company,’ ” she remembers. A.I.M held an open audition that year, and Theodore, who was a junior­ in the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program at the time, made it through many rounds of cuts, but after a conversation with company founder Kyle Abraham, they both decided that the timing wasn’t quite right. The two kept in touch, and during Theodore’s senior year of college, she asked Abraham if he needed any understudies. As fate would have it, the timing was perfect—Abraham invited Theodore to learn a part in his work An Untitled Love and, less than a week later, extended an invitation to join the company part-time.

Theodore has been dancing with A.I.M ever since, bringing groundedness, fluidity, spontaneity, and precision. She’s also a presence elsewhere in the New York City dance world, teaching beginner house at Ailey Extension and deeply immersed in the house scene. Such a full plate might sound overwhelming, but it’s by design. “Dance brings me joy, so much so that it can be hard to decide which path I want to go down,” Theodore says. “But the one thing I know is that I want to continue to find newness in as many aspects of this art form as possible.”

a female dancer wearing jeans and a colorful, one-sleeved top dancing in front of a city skyline
Photo by Quinn Wharton.

New York or Nowhere

“There is no place like NYC. I love the street style scene—it’s so raw and beautiful. I attend many dance battles, including Battle 101, which is run by my friend Huu Rock. It’s a beginner battle, so you’re able to watch dancers grow over the years as they continue to participate, which is really inspiring. Battle events are a total party. Everyone’s dancing between each round, and the love of dance is palpable.”

A Eureka Moment

“In 2020, Kyle [Abraham] set the solo ‘Little Girl Blue’ on me, part of the full-length work If We Were a Love Song. It was one of my favorite moments. I loved performing something so true to Kyle’s art form, but also so true to me. I was able to find my voice and portray very real emotion. The process allowed me to investigate the role and figure out what I wanted people to feel while I was dancing.”

Student and Teacher

“When I’m teaching, I often say that I don’t feel ready to teach just yet—I feel like I’m still at the beginning of my dance career! I began teaching because I’m really passionate about house dance and teaching helps expand on that. I often teach for A.I.M, too. I learn so much about the dancers through teaching. I just love dance so much, so to transmit my love in this educational way is both challenging and fulfilling.”