"As Artists, We Remain a Beautiful Light of Hope in the Middle of All the Darkness"
From the minute my journey as a dancer began at age 4, there were no other options of what I might do with my life.
Sure, I tried other "after-school activities." I tried desperately to master The Phantom of the Opera with my squeaky violin rental—a headache for my parents who paid for private Suzuki method lessons at our house. Constantly attempting famous show tunes on my violin, the effort was completely futile. I actually remember thinking, 'Surely this sheet music is wrong, this sounds nothing like the Phantom of the Opera.'
I even tried my hand at gymnastics. But when my mom's brilliant bribery of $100 for my first mastery of a kip or a back handspring didn't produce any results, we quickly threw in the towel.
Fairchild in Peter Martins' Swan Lake. PC Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB
But in dance, and quickly just ballet, I never needed to be bribed. I never had private lessons. It was truly what I was best at. And it feels good to pursue something you have the talent for.
I always enjoyed the discipline of the art form – a precise list of rules of what was right and wrong, each position and step. As I got older and learned variations, real snippets from real ballets, I was even more hooked.
The musicality of the movement became addicting. Perfectly choreographed steps that could elicit no other imagined options of choreography—was there anything more fulfilling?
Fairchild in Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3. PC Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB
As an adult, my reasons for being a performer have expanded. We are living through terror attacks, mass shootings, reignited racial tensions and political drama. At first it seems dancing is such a juvenile endeavor; not able to offer the world any solutions for its problems.And then I quickly remember our purpose as artists. We will always remain a beautiful light of hope, an escape, in the middle of all the darkness that exists in the world. And for me, that gives my life purpose and enough meaning to continue my favorite after-school activity as long as I can.I am empowered to have the influence we have as artists. To connect to the audience on a visceral level, and bring back some humanity and hope into the world…what a pleasure it is. I couldn't imagine a better reason to be dancing.
As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?
This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.
Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:
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:
Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)
I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.
"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.