When you’re a serious dancer, you spend a lot of your time in classes and rehearsals. But you don’t have to stay laser-focused on dance all day to make it as a pro. In fact, having interests outside the dance world can help you grow as an artist! To get you inspired, Dance Spirit spoke to eight dancers about their non-dance hobbies.

(Photo by Xiomara Reyes, courtesy Daniil Simkin)

Daniil Simkin, principal, American Ballet Theatre

Hobbies: Photography and video games

“I have my camera with me 90 percent of the time. My main goal is to document my life for myself, like a diary, but I also like sharing pictures on social media. It’s a challenge to take a good picture—like being on the hunt! When you achieve the shot you want, it’s very satisfying. Gaming, meanwhile, is a great escape. It takes your mind off everything. It’s a pleasure to spend time in another world.”

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy Ching Ching Wong)

Ching Ching Wong, company dancer, Northwest Dance Project

Hobbies: Sewing and knitting

“My grandmother and aunt are wonderful seamstresses, so I was excited when I got a sewing machine in 2010. I’ve taken classes in skirtmaking and dressmaking, sock and sweater knitting and jewelry crocheting. I read in a book that peak performance comes when your mind is quiet, and that’s how I feel when I’m knitting or sewing.”

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy Elisa Clark)

Elisa Clark, company member, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Hobbies: Life coaching, cooking, skydiving and more

“I need other interests and hobbies to keep from feeling like I’m living in a dance bubble. I read a lot of personal-growth books, and they inspired me to go to life-coaching school. I also love cooking in my own kitchen when I’m home from touring. And I’ve gone skydiving twice and can’t wait to go again—I’ve always been a daredevil! Skydiving gives you a feeling of freedom and exhilaration that’s like nothing you’ve experienced.”

(Photo courtesy Scout Forsythe)

Scout Forsythe, corps de ballet, American Ballet Theatre

Hobby: Surfing

“I grew up in a beach town in California and started surfing before I started dancing. When ABT has a week off and I get to come home, I’m always in the water. Paddling and getting up on the board are great for strengthening my arms, which benefits my dancing. And in general, I think it’s good for dancers to have something else they love doing, without the pressure to perform. It keeps you whole.”

(Photo courtesy Lindsey McGil)

 

 

Lindsey McGill, company dancer, Northwest Dance Project

Hobby: Playing the cello

“I take a weekly group cello class, and practice for an additional four to five hours a week. I’ve always loved the cello: the sound of it, as well as the way you hold it when you play it, resting on your chest so you’re almost embracing it. I think it’s so beautiful. I’ve enjoyed having an opportunity to learn something out of pure joy and expression, without having to be really good at it.”

 

 

Lauren Lovette in
Hallelujah Junction (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

 

 

 

Lauren Lovette, principal, New York City Ballet

Hobbies: Sketching, crocheting and other arts

“I’m taking drawing classes, and I used to make greeting cards and repurpose items I found on the street—I’m a crafty person. It’s relaxing to have an artistic outlet that’s just for me. I don’t have to sell what I make, or even show it to anyone. I also love learning new things, because it keeps my brain working. I believe that if you cultivate yourself as a person, you’ll have more to offer onstage.”

 

(Courtesy Andrew Silks)

 

 

 

 

Andrew Silks, corps de ballet, Tulsa Ballet

Hobby: Fostering and rescuing dogs

“There hasn’t been a day in my life when I haven’t had a dog, and they’ve all been rescues. I currently foster dogs through the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Tulsa. They take dogs out of kill shelters and give them a better living situation until they’re adopted. I’ve probably fostered 15 dogs over the years. I also have three dogs of my own. They’re great to come home to after a day of dancing!”

(Photo by Paul B. Goode, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company)

Michelle Fleet, company member, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Hobby: Fiber art

“When I joined Taylor 2, I realized I needed something to do during my downtime on tour. So one day, I got a knitting kit and taught myself how to knit. Now, I always have projects with me. I’m into knitting, crocheting and felting—my mom sends me fiber from her alpaca farm, and I make felted dolls. It’s a great creative outlet. You can’t think about dance 24/7; you have to let your mind rest.”

Sure, dance is fun, but these performers have other skills they’re putting to good use:

Alexandra Johnson in Sidra Bell's House Unrest. (Jubal Battisti)

Alexandra Johnson

Sidra Bell Dance New York

Hobby: Reupholstering furniture

“My mother has always been into sewing and she’s worked in interior design, so I latched on to her interests. Now, I own a lot of furniture that I’ve reupholstered. People don’t realize that reupholstering isn’t hard if you’re willing to take time to do it—and it saves money!”

Sarah Braverman and Ian Spring (Lois Greenfield)

Sarah Braverman

Parsons Dance

Hobby: Learning Italian

“I decided to take up Italian because two of the dancers I work with speak the language and we spend a lot of time together. Plus, Italy just happens to be on Parsons’ tour schedule! At the end of a long day it feels good to have something spark my interest that’s outside of the dance world. Keeping your mind open makes your dancing more informed.”

Jermaine Terry (Eduardo Patino)

Jermaine Terry

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Hobby: Costume design

“I discovered costume design in college. I had choreographed my senior piece and my roommate suggested I buy slips and add to them for costumes. So that’s what I did. I started to do it professionally later by accident. In rehearsal one day, I was wearing a pair of jazz pants I had made. The choreographer liked them and asked if I would make the costumes for his piece. People have been asking me to make things for them ever since.”

Shelby Elsbree in Christopher Wheeldon’s Sleeping Beauty (David Amzallag)

Shelby Elsbree

Royal Danish Ballet

Hobbies: Blogging, cooking and photography

“A little over a year ago, my sister encouraged me to do something with my free time besides working out. I invested in a camera and took a picture of a chocolate cake baked by my sister. It was the most beautiful picture ever. I love food and cooking, so I combined these side passions with dance and started a blog. Tutus & Tea was born.”

Sona Kharatian in The Great Gatsby (Brianne Bland)

Sona Kharatian

The Washington Ballet

Hobby: Knitting

“During Nutcracker season, I’ll knit scarves and socks to give as Christmas presents. If someone has me as their Secret Santa, they know they’ll get something knitted.”

Suluashvili and his wife, fellow Joffrey dancer Victoria Jaiani. Suluashvili says his favorite piece he’s crocheted is a shawl for Jaiani! (Herbert Migdoll)

Temur Suluashvili

Joffrey Ballet

Hobby: Crocheting

“One day I decided to pick up crocheting needles and see what happened. I thought it could be a fun challenge. With crocheting you can do a little at a time—a few minutes here, a few minutes there, and before you know it you have a scarf or legwarmers!

When you’re dancing all day, it’s nice to have something calming to do when you get home. It lets your mind and your body rest, and you create something beautiful in the process.”

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