Monteiro in Revelations. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy AAADT.

On the Rise: Chalvar Monteiro

Chalvar Monteiro saw his first Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance at 12 and was smitten. Today, at 28, he's a lithe, elegantly understated member of the company. But he's experienced some happy detours along the way—namely as a dancer with MacArthur-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham, as well as Sidra Bell and Larry Keigwin. After a stint with Ailey II, he joined the main company in 2015. He has shown both sophistication and versatility: fearless in the "Sinner Man" section of Revelations and searing in Untitled America, Abraham's emotional exploration of how the prison system affects families.


Company: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Age: 28

Hometown: Montclair, New Jersey

Training: Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, The Ailey School, BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase


Monteiro in action (the second dancer in this excerpt of the "Sinner Man" section of Alvin Ailey's Revelations)

Don't give up on your dream: It took Monteiro seven auditions to get into Ailey. At one point, he decided to stop auditioning but changed his mind after some soul searching. "I realized a lesson that a lot of dancers have to learn in the age of technology," he says, "where everything is at the reach of your thumb: It's really about timing. You can't fast-forward the process."

Breakout moment: Performing Abraham's Untitled America—as an Ailey dancer. "Kyle was able to see me as 'Chalvar the dancer' and not 'Chalvar the Abraham.In.Motion dancer.' He started to see more of what I have to offer."

"I really appreciate his quiet storm.

He has a certain effortlessness

that is intoxicating." —Robert Battle

Being older has its advantages: Earlier in his career, Monteiro says he was an impressionable young dancer. "If the wind was blowing to the right, I was going to the right. Now I feel I can dictate where I want to go and why I want to go there." Dancing for a range of choreographers, learning Ailey's immense repertoire and attending performances—he loved, for instance, a recent show by Michelle Dorrance—have helped broaden his perspective.

Monteiro (left) with Jamar Roberts in Kyle Abraham's Untitled America. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy AAADT.

What artistic director Robert Battle is saying: "Chalvar's movement kind of simmers," says Battle. "He's the type of dancer that hasn't even begun to hit the notes that he will eventually hit. He has a lot of potential even within his prowess."

The trouble with being so flexible: "My legs can just kind of fly up from underneath me! I've knocked myself over a few times."

What he's working on: Ownership. "People expect to see a certain type of dancer when they come to see Ailey. But I'm just working on being honest," says Monteiro. "I want to be myself without imposing myself on the work. I'm also working on being excited by the unknown. You know Virgos: I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it and who I'm doing it with. Now I'm working with being okay with not knowing everything."

Latest Posts


Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
December 2020