NYC Dance Project

Spotlight: This Graham Dancer Found Audition Success Post-Baby

Martha Graham Dance Company leading lady PeiJu Chien-Pott has been turning heads ever since she joined the company in 2011. Nominated this year for the Outstanding Performer Bessie Award, Taiwanese Chien-Pott is known for her striking lines and visceral power in both Graham and contemporary works.

We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series, and she told us the surprising story of how she earned her spot in the Graham Company:


What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?

That dancers don't eat. Some of my friends cannot believe how much I eat.

What other career would you like to try?

Fashion designer and graphic designer. I enjoy compositing beautiful images and letting my creativity bloom.

What was the last dance performance you saw?

Mettawee River Theater Company at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I'm a big fan of artistic director Ralph Lee, who is an amazing mask and puppet maker.

What's the most-played song on your phone?

Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is a great way to start my day and pump up my spirit! Martha Graham's Rite of Spring is one of my favorite ballets to dance, and I'm performing The Chosen One in April.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

I usually arrive at the theater much earlier than the call time. I set up my dressing room to create a feels-like-home space. I do my makeup and hair while I listen to some calm music. And right before I get onstage, I meditate for five minutes and "talk" to Martha. Finally, I give the stage a kiss.

What's your favorite book?

Mats Ek by Lesley Leslie-Spinks, which is a photography book I got when I was in Stockholm working with Ek and his wife Ana Laguna on the duet AXE. Another is Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. The book is so useful—there's not only recipes but Western dining etiquette which is fascinating for me.

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?

If the performance is in New York, I run back home for my daughter. When on tour, if there's a show the next day, I usually head straight to my bed. If not, I hang out with my bestie at my hotel room eating and watching horror movies.

Where did you last vacation?

Mount Desert Island, Maine. I spend some time there with my family every summer trying to soak in nature as much as I can, while my daughter attends summer camp at Acadia National Park.

What app do you spend the most time on?

LINE, which I use to stay in touch with my family and friends from Taiwan.

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?

Man-fei Lo. She was one of my dance teachers at the Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan. She passed away on the day of my graduation performance. I wish she could see how I transformed through my journey from Taiwan to New York. She was a stunning performer, and I wish we could share the stage together.

What's the first item on your bucket list?

I'm going to start with a lighter one, which is to ride a camel. After that is skydiving.

What's your go-to crosstraining routine?

Bikram yoga, bicycling and climbing stairs. I live on the top floor of a walk-up apartment.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

"You will never be able to dance again after you have a child." As a matter of fact, I auditioned for the Martha Graham Dance Company twice, two years apart. The first audition was before I had my daughter, and I was not picked. The second time was right after I had my baby, and I was hired!

If you could relive one performance, what would it be?

Last year I performed Martha Graham's Errand into the Maze at the Havana International Ballet Festival. That was the second time the company ever performed in Cuba. The first time was in 1943. It was amazing to be part of the historic event and to let the Cuban audience witness the power of Graham's work after more than half a century.

Latest Posts


A still from Cats. Universal Pictures

We're Gifting Readers 500 Tickets to Cats

Calling all Cats fans! If you live near Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville or Greenville, we'd love to treat you to a sneak peak of the Cats feature film. In anticipation of the movie's December 20 nationwide premiere, these five cities are hosting advance screenings on Tuesday, December 17 at 7 pm. We'll get you in—for free!

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Julie Lemberger, Courtesy NYPL

The Most Magical Dancing in New York City Last Week Was in a Public Library

Libraries, rightly or not, are frequently designated in the public consciousness as places that are silent, stuffy and still.

This has never really been the case when it comes to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Last Wednesday, as dance world luminaries and patrons alike gathered to celebrate its 75th anniversary (which we highlighted in a print-exclusive feature in our August issue), this was more apparent than ever as brief dance performances unfolded in unexpected corners of the division's home on the Lincoln Center campus.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Dancer and Ilan Lev practitioner Annie Rigney working with a client. Cristina Crippa, Courtesy Rigney

We've Reached Peak Wellness—and These Savvy Dancers Are Taking Advantage

From barre classes to fitness influencers and athleisure outfits, the concept of "wellness" has fully taken over the cultural zeitgeist—and infiltrated the dance world. But wellness is more than just celery juice and healing crystals. It's a multi-trillion-dollar industry that's helping people live healthier lives, and putting dancers in a unique position to capitalize on their expertise.

Dancers have a deep understanding of the body that can equip them to help others meet their wellness goals, whether they take place inside the studio or out. For many, pursuing a health-related interest is more than just a way to hone their own craft, it's also an opportunity to have a fulfilling side hustle. But it takes creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit to make the hard work pay off.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest