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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
The Washington Ballet
“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)
“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.”
Have you ever seen David Parsons' Caught? It's pretty much impossible to catch (har har!) its magic on video, but to give you a sense of its awesomeness, here's Parsons dancing the piece. (The real action begins around 2:30.)
I love its jungle-cat blend of athleticism and fluidity, which characterizes a lot of Parsons' works.
Now you can learn to dance like Parsons. His company began an education partnership with Broadway Dance Center in NYC this month, offering classes based on the choreographer's dance vocabulary. And you'll be learning from those who know it best: Parsons' dancers and Parsons himself. Click here for class schedules and more information.
For more than 20 years, David Parsons has been creating exuberant and energetic modern works for his company, Parsons Dance. He boasts a repertoire of more than 70 pieces—and that doesn’t include dances commissioned by other companies, such as New York City Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Born in Chicago and raised in Kansas City, MO, Parsons first studied gymnastics before beginning his dance training at 12. He moved to NYC at 17 and just eight months later joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where he performed for nine years before founding Parsons Dance in 1987. As a choreographer, Parsons’ style combines the refined control of ballet with the freedom of modern dance. In his signature work, Caught, a dancer appears suspended in the air, an optical illusion created by the clever use of a strobe light that captures the dancer mid-leap while shadowing his (or her) moments of touchdown. Parsons Dance tours extensively, so look for the company at a theater near you. —Katie Rolnick
Get ready: You’re about to take a chance and move to NYC at the ripe old age of 17, to see what the dance capital of the world has to offer. You’ll find the choreographer whose work speaks to you: Paul Taylor. You’ll dance with his company for nine years before beginning to make and perform dances of your own.
Right now, it’s probably hard to believe all the wonderful things you’ll be lucky enough to do. Your dances will be performed by companies all over
the world. And when you ultimately make the difficult decision to leave the Paul Taylor Dance Company, after it’s nurtured you for many years, it will pay off.
You’ll create your own dance company, for which you’ll be a little bit of everything: choreographer, administrator, wardrobe supervisor. But you’ll need to remember to stay in class and keep growing as a dancer, too. That’s a skill that will remain valuable throughout your career.
The world of dance is forever challenging. But you’ll find that dealing with all the aspects of this amazing art form—movement, color, light, content—will make you a better, more mature artist.
P.S. The dance world is extremely small—so don’t burn those bridges!