Dancer Voices

Why It's Okay to Be Choosy About Who You Dance For

Paloma Garcia-Lee has appeared on Broadway and in TV's "Fosse/Verdon" and will be in the new West Side Story film. Photo by Susan Stripling, Courtesy Garcia-Lee

I have a commitment, a romance, a love affair with dance, with the feeling that happens when the music and the steps so perfectly align and I can't help but get chills. That feeling when my partner and I are dancing as one, when everyone onstage feels the same heartbeat, when it's just me alone in my bedroom.


Paloma Garcia-Lee is seated on a staircase. She is wearing a red bra and shorts, black fishnet stockings and black boots.

Holly James, Courtesy Garcia-Lee

I fall madly in love when I dance. I love the work. I grow in the grind. I show up to the studio and the music and the steps and I allow them to wash over me. I emerge hours later a better and more alive person.

I have become incredibly picky about who I dance for. I want to dance with choreographers who really see me, who see my heart and soul. I want to be in the space of someone who loves creating and storytelling in a way that lights me up and inspires me. I want to connect with the people I work with, knowing that we complement each other's energy.

A black-and-white photo of Paloma Garcia-Lee posing in fishnets, lingerie and a corset. One arm is energetically held above her head.

Photo by Susan Stripling, Courtesy Garcia-Lee

When I audition now, I feel a sense of holding a personal audition, as well. Is this someone who sees me? Is this someone I feel a resounding pull to create with? It's similar to the way that I feel with any relationship in my life—I am incredibly picky about who I open up to and share my soul with. I feel lucky to have marvelous working relationships with brilliant choreographers who I truly believe see me clearly. Choreographers who I have been artistically vulnerable with—I have trusted them and in turn I believe they trust me too.

I am at a point where, in addition to performing on Broadway, I am falling in love with storytelling on camera. Stepping into the next chapter of my artistic experience, playing roles and dancing on screen, expanding into a new medium. It's special knowing that no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, it is all born from and it all returns to my first love, my first language—dance.

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