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.
Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.