Spotlight: Why Rock Climbing Is Ideal Cross-Training For Dancers, According to Caleb Teicher
At age 24, dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher already has accolades beyond his years. But this week, the Bessie Award–winning performer adds another impressive feat to his resumé: His company's Joyce Theater debut. Though tap is Teicher's focus, he masterfully combines everything from jazz to Lindy Hop to hip hop in his fresh, clever choreography.
We caught up with him for our "Spotlight" series:
What other career would you like to try?
I'd love to be a pit or studio musician—still contributing to artistic collaborations but with a little less time spent in the spotlight. I started as a percussionist before I found tap dance, and I have dreams about returning to the piano/drum kit someday.
What was the last dance performance you saw?
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion's Pavement. I'm a huge fan of the company's work!
What's the most-played song on your phone?
"Sweet Pea" by Amos Lee—267 plays. It's a song I use while teaching (dance teachers know how that goes...).
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
I usually improvise to a couple songs by myself to get some creative juices flowing. Then, I try to find some quiet time so that listening to music onstage feels fresh and focused. I may eat some gummy bears, too.
What's your favorite book?
Tough question! I love reading biographies and learning how people became the humans/artists we know them to be. Some of my favorites are Chet Baker (Deep In A Dream), Ella Fitzgerald (A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz) and Frankie Manning (Ambassador of Lindy Hop).
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
I'm a fan of the post-show hang, but I'm not a huge fan of loud and crowded bars/public spaces. Ideally, I'd find myself on a couch somewhere with good friends or at a social swing dance.
Where did you last vacation?
What app do you spend the most time on?
Definitely Instagram; it's my favorite form of social media.
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Ohh I have a list! Camille A. Brown, Sam Weber, Donnetta "LilBit" Jackson, Skye Mattox, Remy Kouakou Kouame, Tiler Peck...
What's the first item on your bucket list?
I'd love to play in a music ensemble someday—a punk band or a huge jazz orchestra would be awesome. I'd also love to direct some crazy circus/Vegas show.
What's your go-to cross-training routine?
I've started rock climbing/bouldering at Brooklyn Boulders in the last year, and I love it. It's intelligent movement, strength training and problem solving rolled into one. Beyond that, social swing dancing, independent practice in a dance studio and yoga/Pilates when I can.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
"You'll sleep when you're dead!" is a common expression. I disagree—I have to sleep while I'm living, too...
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
A Shared Evening at Danspace Project choreographed by Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards in March 2011. I think I was too young (17) to really appreciate the unique qualities of that show. It was my first time dancing for Michelle & Dormeshia, and it was, essentially, the first Dorrance Dance performance. If I had known the significance of everything at the time, I would've savored every moment even more.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.