Dance = Making Friends for Life

With Jules (left) during NYCB's intermission

Before the curtain rose on New York City Ballet's Saturday matinee of Coppélia, I glanced to my left and noticed that my friend sitting next to me, Jules, was bobbing her head to the ballet's overture. I laughed—I was doing the same. It's funny how music that we all dance to can get in our heads and just stay there. Jules and I did parts of the ballet at our home studio—probably 15 years ago—and we could have gotten up and performed the choreography we learned right there in the audience. (I'm sure the people behind us were thankful we stayed seated.)

No surprises here, but back then, Jules and I looked nothing like the stars we saw Saturday, especially the lovely Tiler Peck and Lauren Lovette. (When I grow up, I'd like Tiler's port de bras and Lauren's banana feet, please!) In our day, we barely looked like the kids onstage in Act III. But seeing those 24 School of American Ballet cuties on Saturday brought back a lot of memories. It also made me think about how lucky we dancers are to have a group of friends—friends, outside of acquaintances at school or work, who will be there for us whenever, where ever.

Me and Jules in a studio showing in our early days.

I don't remember meeting Jules. I started ballet at age 4—she was 5—and I guess that was it. She's just always been there. As we got older, we both had our separate lives: We lived in different school districts so we each had our during-the-week groups. (A few of Jules' school friends also started to take ballet with us—they all became my "ballet friends," too.) I also started taking classes at a few other studios in the area, but one thing was certain: My ballet friendships from the beginning had real staying power.

A partial cast photo of Main Line Ballet's (our studio's) take on Coppélia. I'm the one in the pink tutu on the right. Gotta love those shiny tights!

We went our separate ways after high school—Jules went to college in Pennsylvania (a few hours from home) and I headed up to The Boston Conservatory. We kept in touch and saw one another over some holiday breaks, though the distance plus hectic college lives made it tough.

After a recital, YEARS ago. I'm on the right in yellow, with Jules in red and my baby sister, Julia, in front.

Now that we're both out of school and more settled, we've been able to visit with each other more often. It's pretty cool to see how different all of my ballet friends' lives have become, and how we're still able to continue our friendship—and share a continued interest in dance. Today, Jules lives in Philly and just got her PhD in environmental science, and she teaches biology at Drexel University. And of course, I'm at Dance Spirit in NYC! We both take dance classes when we can—the last time Jules visited we took class together. It was just like old times.

Most of the gang after a spring recital in high school. I'm in white—Jules is on my left and Julia is on my right.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search