Working Out With Paloma Garcia-Lee

After hitting the Broadway boards in The Phantom of the Opera and Nice Work If You Can Get It, Paloma Garcia-Lee adapted to the exhausting load of an eight-show week. But now, dancing Joshua Bergasse's daredevil choreography for On the Town, she's taken on even more: Not only is she assistant dance captain, but in her role as a swing, she's prepared to go on for eight female ensemble tracks—and seven male tracks!

To stay at-the-ready, Garcia-Lee relies on a specialized fitness routine that varies with her schedule. “Since I'm usually performing about half the week, I need something that can 'waste' me the other half, so I'll go to either SoulCycle spinning or Physique 57 classes," she says. “They work for my body without hurting it. As a performer, I'm looking for something that keeps me toned, tight and includes cardio strength." On performance days, she takes a dance class instead so she's not overtired.

Garcia-Lee was an early adopter of spinning mecca Soul­Cycle when she first moved to New York City at 17. She loved the spiritual atmosphere of the 45- to 90-minute spin classes complete with toning arm exercises, pumping music and motivating instructors. “The instructors' long, lean bodies and sculpted abs and arms shattered the myth that cycling will bulk you up," she says. “When I left, I'd be wobbly, but I loved seeing how my body was changing." When a friend started working at Physique 57, Garcia-Lee found that adding the hour-long classes to her weekly lineup was her “magic potion." The high repetitions of small, dance-like movements at the barre, on the mat and with weights were a perfect counterpoint to spinning. Between the two, she amped up her endurance and added lean, toned muscle mass.

Garcia-Lee was so enamored of SoulCycle in particular that she became an instructor. “When I was in Phantom and riding all the time, my core and legs had never been stronger. It made everything easier, especially on pointe," she says. But when her contract at Nice Work began, the routine became too much. “About six months into Nice Work, I was teaching four to six classes a week—and my voice was fried," she remembers. “I developed polyps on my vocal chords from screaming in the classes and couldn't sing in the show. My voice was gone for four days." Although she doesn't teach these days, she still enjoys taking class. “You have to think about your priorities: I came to New York City to be a Broadway performer," she says. “Finding the ingredients that keep you in shape but uphold your performance is the sweet spot."


Her Go-To Snacks

“A lot of us are guilty of saying 'Oh, I want to look thin,' but that's not the answer to a strong body that can actually handle the demands of this career." To get fully nourished, Garcia-Lee loves these snacks:

• Organic apple-cinnamon brown-rice cakes

• Eggs cooked in coconut oil with goat cheese on top

• Avocado slathered on a plain rice cake

• Organic chicken

• Oranges, apples and grapes for quick energy that won't weigh you down

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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