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Moulin Rouge's Paloma Garcia-Lee on Getting Her Dream Job, Working With Sonya Tayeh and Choosing Polyamory

Garcia-Lee in Moulin Rouge. Photo via Instagram

Paloma Garcia-Lee has one of those careers that most dancers only dream about. She's worked with a growing list of top Broadway choreographers—like Joshua Bergasse and Andy Blankenbuehler—and done shows from the edgy Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 to the classic Phantom of the Opera. Did we mention she's only 27?

Her latest gig has been one of her most exciting yet: the pre-Broadway production of Moulin Rouge, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Garcia-Lee opened up about why it's unlike any show she's worked on before, and about her personal life, including her choice to practice polyamory in her marriage.

Why Moulin Rouge Is Her Dream Job

"I am a huge Baz Luhrmann fan and grew up loving Moulin Rouge. I thought it was whimsical, magical, sensual, extravagant, rich, wild, raw and indulgent. I would watch the dance sequences over and over, mesmerized. Getting to do this show is an actual dream come true. My inner 14-year-old fangirls every night when I hear 'Roxanne' and the Can Can."

Why She Was Dying to Work With Sonya Tayeh

"She is a strong, clear, daring artist. I have admired her work from afar for so long. I would watch her numbers on 'So You Think You Can Dance' and be brought to tears. There is something about her choreography that speaks to the deepest part of not only my dancer but my human. Her movement is so intuitive for my body and challenges me at the same time. She lets women be strong and sensual and lets us work in a way that is usually reserved for men in musical theater."

What Makes Moulin Rouge Special

"I have waited for the opportunity to flex myself in the way that this show demands of me for a long time. I feel like I get to bring so much of my heart and soul to my track. From the moment you walk into the theater and see the vast universe we have created you will know you are in for something you've never experienced before. Getting to play and live inside this gigantic piece of art makes my heart race every show."

What It's Like to Dance For Tayeh

"She sets the bar high and demands a lot but I have never been happier to meet such demands because I feel so deeply respected by her. Everyone she works with she hand picks and loves and wants to see shine in their own unique way. She believes that we are limitless. I feel like she sees me so clearly. "

Why She And Her Husband Chose Polyamory

"I am in a loving marriage to the most glorious person I have ever met. We currently have an open marriage and are practicing ethical non-monogamy, a term for any relationship that is not physically and/or emotionally exclusive by the explicit agreement of all parties. My husband and I support each other in dating and cultivating relationships with other people. Everything is completely transparent. It is a lot of work, and more communication than you can imagine. We spent years discussing and studying before deciding to 'open up.' We have found a lot of joy, trust and connection with each other through exploring the world in this way. We are deeply committed to each other—we just don't define our commitment through fidelity."

How People Have Responded to Her Relationships

"Our family, friends and community have been incredibly supportive. We have also faced some judgement, coming from a lack of understanding. Patience and strength have been necessary to move through those moments. I don't think being open works for everyone, nor do I think anyone should be limited by any label. There are people who will never understand why I choose this path, and I accept that."

Why She Isn't Afraid to Be Open About Her Choices

"The benefits of being out in the open about my marriage structure have time after time outweighed the negative. I've had the unique opportunity to be there for friends and even strangers who are questioning their own structures and views on relationships. I believe many people are examining the same questions I have and by speaking up about it I learn about so many others who are on similar paths. This connection and community is why I choose to continue to share and be transparent."

The Conversation
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

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