Photo by Whitney Browne, Courtesy Guy

This Standout Dancer Warms Up In An Unlikely Place: A Boxing Ring

Tamisha Guy has always loved pushing her body. The dynamic A.I.M dancer and rehearsal director performs like she has no limits. And she's recently taken up a sport that pushes her even further: boxing.

Two or three times a week, she takes a 45-minute class at New York City boxing studios Shadowbox or EverybodyFights. Workouts include a warm-up of core exercises and body-weight strength training. "Then we put the gloves on and go at it on the bag," says Guy.

Tamisha Guy in Kyle Abraham's The Gettin'. Photo by Jerry and Lois Photography, courtesy A.I.M.

Although she was initially afraid that the workouts would bulk up her already muscular physique, she's found they've simply added definition to her arms. More importantly, they've improved her stamina.

"Thirty minutes into class is usually the point where you're like, 'I can't punch anything else,' but you have 15 more minutes to go," she says. "It's just like when you've been dancing for an hour and have to dig deeper to find something in yourself to stay present. Pushing through the uncomfortable part is so gratifying." She feels boxing has put extra fire in her to keep up the intensity onstage.

Her favorite time to box is in the morning. "I find I have more energy going into rehearsals after boxing," she says. "I feel so ready to take on my day."

But if she's got more than four hours of rehearsal, she'll wait to box until after dancing so that her arms aren't overly fatigued. "Then, if I still have a little fight in me, I might take an evening class."

Tamisha Guy is also working to start a side hustle as a fitness model. "You're only young once," she says. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy Guy.

For now, she's not looking to enter any fights. "I think I'm gonna stick with the bag," she says, laughing.

Though she admits she loves the feeling of being in a ring. "I've had a few private training sessions inside it, with my trainer calling out sequences," she says. "But he wasn't hitting me back!

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Ballet BC dancers Tara Williamson, left, and Darren Devaney in RITE by Emily Molnar. Photo by Chris Randle, Courtesy Ballet BC

Why Do Mixed-Rep Companies Still Rely on Ballet for Company Class?

In a single performance by a mixed-rep company, you might see its shape-shifting dancers performing barefoot, in sneakers and in heels. While such a group may have "ballet" in its name and even a rack of tutus in storage, its current relationship to the art form can be tenuous at best. That disconnect grows wider every year as contemporary choreographers look beyond ballet—if not beyond white Western forms entirely—in search of new inspiration and foundational techniques.

Yet dancers at almost all of the world's leading mixed-rep ensembles take ballet classes before rehearsals and shows. Most companies rarely depart from ballet more than twice a week and some never offer alternative classes.

"The question, 'Why do you take ballet class to prepare you for repertory which is not strictly classical?' has been in the air since Diaghilev's time," says Peter Lewton-Brain, Monaco-based president of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science. "What you're doing onstage is often not what you're doing in class."

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