"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.
I was on my favorite treadmill when it happened.
My best running buddy was on my left. To my right, a total stranger with whom I'd suddenly become competitive. As the 15-person group headed into a two-minute push, the instructor got hyped, and the remix blasting Rihanna's "We Found Love" transitioned to "Smooth Criminal."