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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"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.

With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.

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