Dream Weekend in NYC
Visiting NYC this summer? The first thing you’ll realize is that the Big Apple is just that: big. Plus, it’s jam-packed with dance classes to take, places to eat, stores to shop in and sights to see. How are you supposed to decide what to do?
To help you map out your dream NYC weekend, Dance Spirit spoke to three NYC-based dancers. We had them walk us through a hypothetical Friday, Saturday and Sunday,
giving their recommendations for classes, restaurants, shops and shows you won’t want to miss. Happy exploring!
Dancer with KEIGWIN + COMPANY and Aszure Barton & Artists
Has lived in NYC since: age 3
10 am: Contemporary Class: “Gregory Dolbashian and Loni Landon alternate teaching a Friday morning class at Peridance Capezio Center [E 13th St, between Third and Fourth Aves]. I love it because it feels more like a rehearsal than a class—they do lots of improvisation during the warm-up and across the floor, with a choreographed phrase at the end.”
12 pm: Lunch: “Near Peridance, I like eating at The Grey Dog [University Pl, at
E 12th St]. The atmosphere is so hip, and there’s good music, with lots of healthy food options. I usually get the veggie press sandwich. While I’m in that area, I might also stop at Argo Tea [University Pl, at E 11th St] and get a vanilla chai latte with almond milk.”
1 pm: Book browsing: “If I have time to kill, I love going to Strand Book Store [Broadway, at E 12th St] and looking at the racks of $1 books outside. I can easily spend hours inside the store.”
2:30 pm: House Dance class: “Back at Peridance, I like to take house dance with Sekou Heru. He’s a founding member of Dance Fusion NYC, which was created by one of the originators of the house movement. It feels special to study with someone who has such a history. Plus, it’s a great workout!”
4:30 pm: Shopping: “One of my favorite clothing stores in the city is Buffalo Exchange. There are several locations, but I usually go to the one in Chelsea [W 26th St, at Sixth Ave]. It’s a secondhand shop that’s a hidden gem. New Yorkers have such great style, and I always find amazing pieces there.”
8 pm: Show: “My favorite theaters in NYC are the Joyce Theater [Eighth Ave, at 19th St], Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn] and Baryshnikov Arts Center [W 37th St, at 10th Ave]. Where I go depends on who’s performing. Another thing to keep in mind is that in the summer, NYC has so many free outdoor performances. From swing dancing at Lincoln Center [W 62nd to W 66th Sts, between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves] to dance and music festivals in Central Park [W 59th to W 110th Sts, between Fifth Ave and Central Park West], you can be outside enjoying free entertainment.” (Visit nycgo.com/free to find out what’s going on.)
Ensemble in Matilda: The Musical on Broadway
Has lived in NYC since: 2008
9 am: Breakfast: “I usually grab a cup of coffee and a muffin from Amy’s Bread [W 47th St and Ninth Ave]. It’s my favorite coffee in NYC.”
10:30 am: Ballet class: “I like to start my day with ballet class, and Steps on Broadway [W 74th St and Broadway] is my favorite dance studio in the city. Wilhelm Burmann teaches at 10:30 on Saturdays. His class is amazing and fun, but it’s also intimidating. It’s not uncommon to stand at the barre next to someone like New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan.”
12:30 pm: Lunch: “Isabella’s [Columbus Ave, at W 77th St] is great for brunch or lunch. The sweet potato fries are really good.”
1:30 pm: Museum: “Isabella’s is near the American Museum of Natural History [Central Park West, at W 79th St], so I might stop by the museum after eating. I like the dinosaur exhibit—it’s pretty unreal imagining the world the way it was back then.”
3 pm: Park: “I love the High Line [Manhattan’s West Side, Gansevoort St to W 30th St]. It’s a beautiful park built on a former elevated railroad track, and it’s at its best in spring and summer. There are great views of the Hudson River.”
4:30 pm: Snack and shopping: “From the High Line, you can go into Chelsea Market [Ninth Ave, between W 15th and W 16th Sts]. There are lots of small restaurants inside. I love the gelato at L’Arte del Gelato. Chelsea Market also has lots of interesting shops, including Artists & Fleas, a pop-up flea market with items from different artists.”
6:30 pm: Dinner: “Nizza [Ninth Ave and W 45th St] is close to any Broadway theater. The staff is friendly, and the food is really great Italian cuisine.”
8 pm: Show: “There are so many awesome Broadway shows right now! Besides Matilda: The Musical [Shubert Theatre, W 44th St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves], I really liked Once [Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, W 45th St, between Broadway and Eighth Ave], and would see it again. Also, I could see The Book of Mormon [Eugene O’Neill Theatre, W 49th St, between Broadway and Eighth Ave] a million times.”
11 pm: Dessert: “Around the corner from Nizza is a bakery called Schmackary’s
[W 45th St and Ninth Ave] with some of the best cookies in the city. My favorite is the red velvet.”
Principal with New York City Ballet
Has lived in NYC since: 2003
11 am: Brunch: “I’m a huge fan of Good Enough to Eat [Amsterdam Ave, at W 83rd St]. It has outdoor seating, so my fiancé, Robert [Fairchild, also a NYCB principal], and I can bring the dogs along. Café Ronda [Columbus Ave, between W 71st and W 72nd Sts] is also great for brunch and lunch.”
12:30 pm: Mani/pedi: “I’ve gone to the same manicure/pedicure spot, An Beauty Nails [W 72nd St, between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves], since I moved to NYC 10 years ago! I try to get my nails done every two weeks.”
2 pm: Cross-training: “On a day when I don’t have company class at NYCB, I like to do other forms of exercise. I played tennis growing up, and I still enjoy playing. There are courts in Central Park [enter at W 96th St and Central Park West], and also in Riverside Park [at W 96th St, along Riverside Dr]. I’ve also gotten into Ballet Bungee, a workout system that’s Pilates- and ballet-based, but that adds a bungee cord to the mix. My friend Rachel Piskin, a former NYCB dancer, created it. She teaches it at Chaise 23 [E 23rd St, between Park and Madison Aves].”
3:30 pm: Shopping: “One of my favorite clothing stores in the city is AllSaints [Broadway, at Spring St]. It’s a British brand that can be described as ‘British-chic rock and roll.’ My style is fun/flirty meets trendy/hip. I like wearing glitzy tops and always love a skinny jean with standout heels.”
5:30 pm: Dinner: “Robbie and I are part of a Sunday night dinner party group with three other couples. If we’re not cooking at someone’s apartment, we’ll go out to dinner. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC is Gemma, in the Bowery Hotel [Bowery, at E 3rd St]. It’s an Italian restaurant. Everything on the menu is good, but two of my favorite dishes are the baby beet insalate and the focaccia robiola pizze.”
8 pm: Show: “I love to see performances, from American Ballet Theatre to Broadway shows. In terms of venues, New York City Center [W 55th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves] is great because it brings in so many companies. There’s always something interesting onstage there.”
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
I started dance classes at a young age. By the time I was 3, I was training at The Dance Club, and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventions as a mini, and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so much variety—I was in awe.
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
My mom was a dancer growing up, and she went on to become a dance teacher, so I've really grown up in the studio. I started classes when I was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.