Courtney Schwartz seems to be every comp kid's idol. Each week, she assists Talia Favia in a different city for Radix Dance Convention, but it's her high energy, super-cool movement, and genuine passion that truly inspires.
Schwartz trained at Studio 19 in Pittsburgh, PA. After high school she attended Point Park University for one semester before deciding it was time to branch out into the professional world. She performed with Odyssey Dance Theater in Salt Lake City, UT, for two season before moving to L.A. to pursue a commercial dance career. In 2014, she connected with Talia Favia at an Artists Simply Human convention, and the two have been working together ever since.
While she's still represented by BLOC L.A. and regularly works commercial jobs, she's also veered from a traditional dance career path, by making the bulk of her profession about assisting. "I don't know many people who do what I do," Schwartz says. "I have a very unique situation with Talia. I enjoy being behind the scenes and working on the process. I love watching her create, and helping her bring the final product to life. I do my best, but it's not about me, it's about what we're creating. It's the part of dance that I love most. Assisting isn't for everyone, though. We each need to be honest with ourselves about what we enjoy, and what we want out of our careers, and then follow that."
Dance Spirit caught up with Schwartz to get the inside scoop on her life as an assistant. Check out what she has to say!👇
Photo by Lexi Colvin, courtesy Schwartz
1. What's your favorite class combo of all time?
Talia's "For Island, Fires, and Family."
2. How much time do you spend on the road with Talia each year?
We're on the road about 75% of the weekends out of the year. Plus, we go to about 15 studios every year, so I would say Talia sets about 75 pieces total. It's a lot of hard work. The dancers are looking to me to know the choreography, so I have to be able to pick everything up quickly and really know my stuff. As Talia becomes more and more in demand, the amount of time we have at each place gets shorter and shorter, and I have to be even better at rolling with the fast pace.
3. How do you take care of your body while doing such physical choreography?
I take a lot of baths. I really love LUSH bath products. I carry my foam roller and my Deep Blue Rub by doTERRA with me everywhere I go. My back and hips aren't naturally that flexible, so I have to make sure I warm up really well before each class, and I try to take care of my health by eating right and sleeping when I can. All those things are a big part of how I survive the day to day.
4. What are your favorite power foods?I love avocado toast with a poached egg for breakfast, and I usually eat a sandwich with chicken for lunch. For dinner, I like a good pasta dish, or fish with rice—really anything that'll sustain me through the night. Throughout the day I'm constantly snacking. I'm known for having a gigantic snack bag, and people make fun of me for it...until they want some!
5. How do you spend your days off?
I love to get massages, and take regular yoga classes. Other than that, I'm really just a homebody. I like relaxing and watching movies with friends.
6. What dance accomplishment are you most proud of?
"I'm proud of how much I've grown mentally as a dancer. I never though I would be so open minded and willing to try new things. I've gone different places in my movement than I ever had anticipated, and I didn't know I'd be able to find the confidence I now have in who I am as a dancer."
7. What do you love most about assisting Talia?
I love how strong and demanding her movement is—it mirrors how strong and demanding she is as a person. She has this way of making you want to be your best at all times, while also making you feel safe to try new things. She's such a special human and creator.
8. What inspires you most when you're performing?
The crowd! When I perform and I hear people cheering and clapping, it lights a fire in me like nobody's business.
9. What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you do before going to bed at night?
The first thing I do is I make a cup of coffee, and the last thing I do is wash my face.
10. What's the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received?
That everyone else has struggles, too. None of us are alone in how we think and how we feel.
Photo by Lexi Colvin, courtesy Schwartz