This Pro Dancer Brings His HR Expertise Into the Studio
Alexander Pham's movements seem to have no noticeable beginning or end. Though he's a fluid, silky performer, his electrifying dancing also exhibits impressive power. These qualities have made audiences and artistic directors alike take notice in his three years with Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater and now at TU Dance. Byrd finds Pham's ability to translate technical demand into artistic expression remarkable, saying, "He is a rare and marvelous combination of intelligence and kinetic acumen."
Company: TU Dance
Hometown: Rosemount, Minnesota
Training and academic chops: University of Minnesota Twin Cities, BFA in dance and BS in human resource development
Alexander Pham in Uri Sands' With Love.
Michael Slobodian, Courtesy TU Dance
Special moment: Pham's solo Re: Repetition was selected in 2016 for the Seattle-area CHOP SHOP dance festival. The intimate choreography touches on ideas of self-doubt.
Two degrees, two jobs: His human resource development degree helped Pham land a double role in his last two seasons with Spectrum Dance Theater: Besides being a dancer, he also worked as the company's marketing and media associate. "Human resources is all about uncovering and utilizing potential—and being proactively keen about the needs and gaps among individuals and groups," he says. "That's also what I bring into the studio—knowing how to fill in the gaps supportively, energetically."
More than a contract: Pham chooses carefully where he dances, noting his identity as a first-generation Asian-American gay man. "I want to dance for a company or work with choreographers that empower people of color and/or with marginalized identities, and use their presence to have dialogue, to educate and to inform," he says.
What Toni Pierce-Sands is saying: "Alex's quality of movement is simultaneously robust and subtle, and all from his heart," says the TU Dance co-artistic director. "He is an extremely detailed thinker, a gift that allows him to learn work very quickly, capturing the integrity of layers upon layers of details."
Best advice: "Always know what fulfills you artistically, spiritually and physically," says Pham. "Life as a professional dancer is hard, but if you know why it matters to you and how it enriches your being, then it's worth it."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.