Three Couples Share Their Stories of Dance & Love
Many dancers dream of performing onstage with the one they love. But only a few of us get to do exactly that. Here are three couples of different genres who dance together, live together and work together.
Tiler Peck & Robert Fairchild
Tiler and Robbie are New York City Ballet stars who tied the knot in 2014. He came to more widespread fame in 2015 when he brought his smooth dancing and charisma to An American in Paris on Broadway, and she received a 2016 Dance Magazine Award for a decade of supreme musicality and verve. They’ve also been busy making seven debuts at Vail International Dance Festival. They got together as teenagers at the School of American Ballet, the school affiliated with NYCB, but drifted apart. Five years ago they reunited and have been devoted to each other ever since—while also devoted to dance.
Photos of Fairchild and Peck are by Matthew Karas.
Robbie: “It feels like you’re holding your best friend’s hand, your life partner, the one you couldn’t see yourself without. It just feels second nature.”
Tiler: “It doesn’t feel normal for us to walk side by side if I’m not holding his hand.”
Kirven Douthit-Boyd and Antonio Douthit-Boyd
Antonio and Kirven got together about 12 years ago while on tour as lead dancers with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. They wed in June 2013, two years after same-sex marriage became legal in New York. In 2015, they moved to St. Louis, Antonio’s hometown, to become co-artistic directors of the dance program at Center of Creative Arts (COCA). (See their cover story in Dance Teacher last fall.)
Photos of the Douthit-Boyds are by Matthew Karas.
Antonio: “We didn’t know marriage was an option but we definitely knew we wanted to be together forever.”
Kirven: “I think that the way society views same-sex marriage has come a long way. I don’t think it’s evolved as fully as possible, but I do think there have been a lot of great changes. The fact that I can love this man and marry this man and live my life with him is an amazing thing.”
Antonio: “When Kirven and I first started dating, we used to walk down the street and our hands would graze each other and I was like, ‘Oh you just wanna hold my hand.’ When I got to New York in 1999 or 2000, you never saw two men or two women holding hands going down the street, and now it’s like second nature…To think where we’ve come, from ’99 to 2014 is a huge milestone.”
Kwikstep & Rokafella
Gabriel Kwikstep Dionisio and Ana Rokafella Garcia are pioneers of hip-hop as a concert dance form. They met in 1991 while dancing in the street. Together in ’97 they started Full Circle Productions, a collective that brings the positive message of hip-hop culture to schools, universities and stages worldwide. They married in 2000—he proposed to her onstage at Hostos Community College in the Bronx— and have since appeared in music videos, commercials and print ads. Through their teaching and outreach programs, they are mentoring the next generation.
Photos of Kwikstep and Rokafella by Julieta Cervantes.
Kwik: "When we hug or kiss or hold hands, it is healing our Battle wounds, so it’s special and not routine."
Rok: "Because I am a woman in hip-hop I must stand on my own and he has to let me do that… thankfully he knows when to hold me."
(Photographs and quotes are taken from a shoot for a Forevermark public relations campaign in 2014.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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.