"I Think I Dance Because I Don't Like to Dance"
I always ask myself: If my parents hadn't been flamenco dancers, would I have danced? I certainly don't have a calling for dancing. As a child I was no Billy Elliot—that kind of boy that would do anything to dance. In fact, I was the Anti-Billy Elliot. My parents were always forcing me to dance, and I pushed back as much as I could. I thought dancing was boring.
So why, as an adult, do I continue to dance? I know it sounds odd, but I think I dance because I don't like to dance. It's not logical, but there is something freeing in accepting that. I literally cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't dance. I've danced since I've had consciousness. It's simply in my DNA. And you can't escape what you are.
I was always going to be a dancer, but my saving grace as an adult is that I don't feel any pressure. I feel total freedom when it comes to how I choose to dance. As long as people continue asking me to perform, I will, but it has to be on my terms.
When I perform in public, it's not so much the dance that I respect as much as the venue and stage and the people who come to watch me. I find that connection very special, even more so as time passes.
I love reading and film, but I am not a writer or a filmmaker. Dance is the tool I was given, so it's the tool I use to create art. I consider myself an artist more than a dancer, because the work that I create is inspired by more than just movement. Dance is just a means of transmission, that little bit of magic that was handed down to me and that I now use to create a world of my own within a profession that I never chose for myself.
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.