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

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

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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J. Alice Jackson, Courtesy CHRP

Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World Finally Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

What happens when a dance festival is set to celebrate a landmark anniversary, but a global pandemic has other plans?

Chicago's Rhythm World, the oldest tap festival in the country, should have enjoyed its 30th iteration last summer. Disrupted by COVID-19, it was quickly reimagined for virtual spaces with a blend of recorded and livestreamed classes. So as not to let the pandemic rob the festival of its well-deserved fanfare, it was cleverly marketed as Rhythm World 29.5.

Fortunately, the festival returns in full force this year, officially marking three decades of rhythm-making with three weeks of events, July 26 to August 15. As usual, the festival will be filled with a variety of master classes, intensive courses and performances, as well as a teacher certification program and the Youth Tap Ensemble Conference. At the helm is Chicago native Jumaane Taylor, the newly appointed festival director, who has curated both the education and performance programs. Taylor, an accomplished choreographer, came to the festival first as a young student and later as part of its faculty.

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July 2021