Spotlight: Whoever Told Kaitlyn Gilliland "Not to Think Too Much" Got It All Wrong

June 26, 2018

Kaitlyn Gilliland
has never been the kind of dancer who cares about taking the usual route. The former New York City Ballet dancer shocked the ballet world when she left the company just as her star was rising. Since then, she’s been an in-demand freelancer, and most recently, a dancer with former colleague Benjamin Millepied‘s L.A. Dance Project. But not for long—after giving her final performance at the end of July, she’ll head back to the East Coast to begin her MBA at Yale.

We caught up with her for our “Spotlight” series:

What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?

That we’re all physically coordinated/graceful offstage.

What’s the most-played song on your phone?

That changes very frequently but right now it’s James Blake’s “Don’t Miss It.”

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

Meditate, eat a few chocolate peanut butter cups, laugh and hug my colleagues. And get warm.

What’s your favorite book?

It’s impossible to choose one! Recent favorites include The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and selections from The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?

Ideally at Venice Beach with a cold beer.

Where did you last vacation?

Santa Barbara

What app do you spend the most time on?


Photo by Don Norman @don_nor_man for L.A. Dance Project #camerasanddancers

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?

My sister, any day

What’s the first item on your bucket list?

Learn to fly (an airplane)

What was the last dance performance you saw?

L.A. Dance Project. I love watching my colleagues dance when I’m not performing.

What’s your go-to crosstraining routine?

I’m a stubborn New Yorker and try to get around L.A. on foot as much as I can. So probably walking, because it’s a challenge here.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t think too much.”

If you could relive one performance, what would it be?

I usually spend at least 24 hours after my performances reliving/rehashing every moment. Then I try to take what I’ve learned, let the rest go, and focus on what’s next.