I Love My NYC

Four dancers share what they love most about the Big Apple, from studios and theaters to restaurants and recreation.

Cameron Adams, Broadway performer

Myrtle Beach, SC, native Cameron Adams’ big break came at age 16: New York City Dance Alliance’s Joe Lanteri recommended the fresh-faced Adams to Jay Binder Casting, which was looking for young teens for an upcoming revival of The Music Man. Adams auditioned, got the job and moved to NYC. Since then, she’s performed on the Great White Way in Oklahoma!, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Shrek the Musical and Promises, Promises. She’s currently dancing in the hit show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“You just can’t go wrong with Broadway Dance Center. There’s no feeling at BDC of ‘this is just for New Yorkers.’ They want people from all over to come take class. Plus, I live next door!” Broadway Dance Center: 322 W. 45th St (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), 3rd Floor, broadwaydancecenter.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“Cosmic Diner is really theater friendly. I go for coffee and breakfast with girlfriends.” Cosmic Diner: 888 Eighth Ave (at 52nd Street), cosmicdinernyc.com

Favorite Place to Perform

“I did my first Broadway show ever, The Music Man, at The Neil Simon Theatre. I also performed in Hairspray there on and off for close to four years, so the crew is like family to me. When I walk by, I stop in and give everybody a hug!” The Neil Simon Theatre: 250 W. 52nd St (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), neilsimontheatre.com (Note: The Neil Simon Theatre is currently home to Catch Me If You Can.)

Favorite After-Work Bite

“Right across the street from the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where I’m in How to Succeed…, is a Japanese restaurant called Kodama. It has great Japanese food. And the owners are good to people in theater—right after our opening, they sent over a platter of sushi!” Kodama Sushi: 301 W. 45th St (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), kodamajapanesenyc.com

Best-Kept Dancer Secret

“There are great inexpensive massage spots all over the city. I go to Rub a Dub in Midtown for an intense deep-tissue massage. They’re used to having dancers and people in the theater business.” Rub a Dub: 670 Ninth Ave (at 52nd Street), 212-265-2788

Favorite Park

“It’s so cool that Central Park is this massive green space in the middle of one of the craziest, most populated cities in the world. In the spring and summer, I like to watch the softball leagues play there, or lay out and picnic.” Central Park: centralparknyc.org

Tip for Navigating the Theater District

“Eighth Avenue and Broadway are generally filled with tourists and people taking their time sightseeing. If you’re in a rush, Ninth Avenue is better. It gets more locals, who walk at a faster pace.”

"I love that, in New York, I can pick any night of the week and any neighborhood and hear live music or see a dance performance. Art is everywhere in this city. It's unavoidable."

Francesca Romo, co-founder and performer; Gallim Dance

London-born Francesca Romo got her first taste of dancing in the Big Apple in 2004, while on tour with Richard Alston Dance Company. “We performed at The Joyce, and I went home thinking about the lively dance scene and the energy of the city,” she says. She moved to NYC in 2006, and four months later co-founded Gallim Dance with choreographer Andrea Miller. Romo is in Italy this summer, but catch other Gallim members teaching workshops and classes at studios around the city.

Favorite Places to Take Open Class

“If you’re looking for ballet, there are great classes at Gibney Dance Center. I also take yoga class at Jivamukti in Union Square and gymnastics at Chelsea Piers.” Gibney Dance Center: 890 Broadway (at 19th Street), 5th Fl, gibneydance.org; Jivamukti Yoga School: 841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Streets), 2nd Fl, jivamuktiyoga.com; Chelsea Piers: 23rd Street at the Hudson River, chelseapiers.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“When I’m in Manhattan, I go to 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar. It’s a tucked-away café.” 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar: 71 Irving Pl (between 18th and 19th Streets), irvingfarm.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“My ultimate favorite is the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I hope to perform there someday!” Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM): 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, bam.org

Favorite Place to Perform

“I love Joyce SoHo, and have fond memories of it because it’s where I did my first gig with Gallim. I like to perform in intimate spaces.” Joyce SoHo: 155 Mercer St (between Prince and Houston Streets), joyce.org/joycesoho

Favorite Museum

“Whenever I’m tired, upset or I’ve had enough, I go to the Frick museum. Even if I don’t go in, I love just being near the building. It’s wonderful and personal—it was once someone’s house, so you see his own collection of things.” The Frick Collection: 1 E. 70th St (between Madison and Fifth Avenues), frick.org

Favorite Park

“Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a little more wild than Central Park. You can sit and chill, or you can barbecue with a bunch of people. Plus it’s big but not so huge that you get lost.” Prospect Park: prospectpark.org

 

Shopping Secrets

“If you’re a book lover, go to the Strand Bookstore—especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. They have a wide selection of books, including new, used and signed copies. One of my favorite shops in Brooklyn is Cog & Pearl, on Fifth Avenue. They have so many little trinkets and beautiful things, and all of the jewelry there is made by different artists.” Strand Bookstore: 828 Broadway (at 12th Street), strandbooks.com; Cog & Pearl: 190 Fifth Ave (at Sackett Street), Brooklyn, cogandpearl.com

Favorite Free Art Fix

“The Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturdays offer free art and entertainment programs every month. There’s great live music, DJs and fun hands-on art projects.” Brooklyn Museum: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, brooklynmuseum.org

"The vibrancy of this city is electric. You can feel it through the fibers of everyone walking around. You know people came here for a reason."

Justin Peck, New York City Ballet corps member

New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck is a man of many talents. When he’s not performing in the company’s dizzying array of classical, neoclassical and contemporary ballets, you’ll often find this 23-year-old San Diego native choreographing works of his own. This summer, Peck is presenting a new work at Benjamin Millepied’s Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“Wilhelm Burmann teaches a phenomenal open ballet class at Steps on Broadway. A lot of NYCB dancers take it regularly.” Steps on Broadway: 2121 Broadway (at 74th Street), stepsnyc.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“I love the space that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs in. It’s very intimate. It almost feels like an art gallery.” Cedar Lake: 547 W. 26th St (between 10th and 11th Avenues), cedarlakedance.com

Favorite Place to Perform

“The David H. Koch Theater is so well-designed—there’s not really a bad seat in the house.” The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center: Columbus Ave and 63rd Street, lincolncenter.org

Favorite Restaurants

“After a long day of rehearsing and performing, a lot of dancers frequent Café Ronda. They have great steaks and huge salads. For a quick bite, there’s a place called Luke’s Lobster. We’re all hooked on the lobster rolls!” Café Ronda: 249 Columbus Ave (at 72nd Street), caferonda.com; Luke’s Lobster: 426 Amsterdam Ave (between 80th and 81st Streets), lukeslobster.com

Favorite Bakery

“Levain Bakery has the best cookies! They’re enormous mounds of chocolate chip goodness. The owners of this café are triathletes, so their goal is to make a calorie-packed cookie that’s meant to sustain you through a long workout—good for dancers, too.” Levain Bakery: 167 W. 74th St (at Amsterdam Ave), levainbakery.com

Favorite Downtime Activity

“I bike a lot—I’m a big urban biking advocate. There’s a new scenic path down the entire west side of Manhattan. You’ll find all sorts of recreation along the way, including various parks, places to play tennis and Chelsea Piers.”

 

Favorite NYC Landmark

“The colossal, statuesque Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on 89th Street and Riverside Drive, by Riverside Park, is a great place to go if you want some quiet time to reflect. Riverside Park is so underrated.” Riverside Park: nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark

Best-Kept Dancer Secret

“The amazing Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has the largest dance video archive in the world. You can watch works by anyone from Merce Cunningham to Doris Humphrey to George Balanchine—for free!” New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, nypl.org/locations/lpa

"The quick pace of NYC inspires me. That hustle and bustle has inspired many other choreographers as well; it's apparent in Jerome Robbins' pieces."

Nicole Kroese, dance student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts

After years of training in her hometown of Seattle, WA, Nicole Kroese knew she wanted to attend college in NYC. She ended up at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she’s minoring in business and has been pursuing internships in marketing and advertising on top of her dance life. This summer, she’s taking part in Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s new three-week intensive, CL 360.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“Peridance is two blocks from my apartment, so I take Jason Parsons’ class there all the time.” Peridance Capezio Center: 126 E. 13th St (between Third and Fourth Avenues), peridance.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“Think Coffee and The Bean in the East Village both have great coffee and free internet access. I go there to do homework a lot.” Think Coffee: 248 Mercer St and 123 Fourth Ave, thinkcoffeenyc.com; The Bean Coffee and Tea: 49 1/2 1st Ave (at Third Street), thebeannyc.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“The Joyce Theater hosts amazing companies. Plus, if you usher there, you can see the show for free!” The Joyce Theater: 175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street), joyce.org

Favorite Place to Perform

“Jazz at Lincoln Center in Columbus Circle. Tisch hosted a gala there last year to honor Billy Crystal, and I was in the opening number. It was so amazing.” Jazz at Lincoln Center: 33 W. 60th St (at Columbus Circle), 11th Floor, jalc.org

Favorite Night Out

“I love going to Rosa Mexicano for birthdays. So delicious.” Rosa Mexicano: 9 E. 18th St (between Fifth Avenue and Broadway), 61 Columbus Ave (at 62nd Street) and 1063 First Ave (at 58th Street), rosamexicano.com

Favorite Weekend Hangout

“My friends and I like long brunches at Café Mogador, in the East Village.” Café Mogador: 101 St. Marks Pl (between First Avenue and Avenue A), #1, cafemogador.com

Favorite Tourist Attraction

“I feel peaceful when I walk along The High Line or Hudson River Park in Chelsea. They’re great places to think and create.” The High Line: Manhattan’s West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, thehighline.org; Hudson River Park: Manhattan at the Hudson, hudsonriverpark.org

"I love that everyone in NYC is so driven. There are inspired, passionate people everywhere. I also love that there are an infinite number of opportunities. You could live here for 50 years and still be discovering places you've never been."

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What’s in Your Dance Bag—Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Sometimes our dance bags feel like portals to another dimension—we have no idea what half the stuff buried in our bags even is. (Note to self: Clean out dance bag.)

But have you ever wondered if there's a method to the madness? We're pretty sure there is, and as always, we're pretty sure it's something to do with astrology. That's right, your resident Dance Spirit astrologers are back with our best guess at what you keep in your dance bag—based on your zodiac sign.

Aries

You're always going 100 mph Aries (or maybe even more), so it's pretty much a guarantee that your dance bag is fully stocked with snacks to power you through the day. Granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit. It's like a Whole Foods in there.

You've also usually got about six different pairs of shoes in your bag. As an Aries, you love adventure, trying new things and, most of all, a challenge. So when it comes to classes, you're all over the map. Tap, jazz, ballet, character, modern—you'll try them all.

Something else you won't go without? Your signature red lipstick, obv. How else are you going to show off your fiery personality? (And look amazing while doing it, TYSM.)

Taurus

As a child of Venus, you always want to look your best, Taurus. So your dance bag is a hair salon/makeup station, all in one. If your dance besties need to borrow a hair tie, or are looking for a fun accessory to spice up their bun, they know you're the one to go to.

Also important to you? Smelling your best. Taureans love comforting, luxurious scents, so your dance bag is typically equipped with a favorite perfume or deodorant. (Or both.)

But what's most important is the bag itself—admit it, you've been using the same dance bag for years. We get it, Taurus, nobody likes change, and least of all the stubborn bull of the zodiac. But if your dance bag is really starting to smell like feet (or if your bobby pins are starting to slip through the holes in the bottom), you might want to consider investing in a new bag.

Gemini

Gemini, you love to switch it up. So you're pretty much guaranteed to have at least three different dance fits in your bag at any given time. And your dancewear is always on point. You love to keep up with trends and try edgy, new looks.

Ever the intellect, you usually have a book in your bag, as well. You're always making book recs to your fellow dancers, and you refuse to be bored between rehearsals or backstage.

Though you might act carefree, Gemini, we know that at heart, you're ruled by Mercury—and you have more in common with your sister sign Virgo than you'd like to admit. That's why you always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some floss in your dance bag. No way you're getting caught with food between your teeth (or bad breath during partnering class).

Cancer

Not to be obvious, but as a water sign, the first and foremost thing a Cancerian keeps in their dance bag? A water bottle, of course. (Preferably a Hydroflask, S'well or any bottle that comes in a fun color.) No dehydration here, please and thank you.

Your dance bag also functions as a de facto vending machine for your dance besties, since you always come prepared with the best snacks, and you're always willing to share. As a bonus, your snacks are almost always homemade, since you're practically a five-star chef.

And while we're wary of zodiac stereotypes, there is a pretty good chance your dance bag is stocked with tissues. And there's no shame in that—because, really, who can get through a performance of Romeo and Juliet without shedding some tears? Props to you for being in touch with your emotions, Cancer.

Leo

We'll state the obvious, Leo. You love to look at yourself, and sometimes the studio mirrors just aren't enough. So, naturally, you always keep a compact mirror in your dance bag, just in case your makeup or your bun needs an extra touch-up.

You also love bright colors, and you're not afraid to wear more daring dancewear than any of your besties. You've usually got a couple of leotards packed in your bag, just in case you need to make a fashion statement, and they're always fun. Bright colors, loud prints, stylish necklines—you'll try anything.

But something not everyone knows about you? You're an amazing friend, and incredibly loyal, Leo. That's why you've usually got something in your bag for your dance bestie, be it her favorite brand of granola bar, a fun sparkly pin for her hair, or a note reminding her she's a star, on and off the stage.

Virgo

You're incredibly hardworking, Virgo, so you've always got the tools for success in your dance bag. TheraBands, foam rollers, tennis balls—you're the one dancer your teacher can always count on to be stretching between classes.

You also love to be prepared, so you've usually got a makeshift first-aid kit in your bag. The thought of suffering a blister or floor burn without the appropriate salves or bandages makes you shudder, and, hey, it's always better to be overprepared, right?

What's most noticeable about your dance bag, though, isn't what's inside of it. It's what it looks like—your bag is pristine. It never smells like feet, and you've got a hard-core system for what you keep in each little zip pocket or compartment. And TBH, all of your dance friends are jealous, though they'd never admit it.

Libra

Like your sister sign Taurus, appearances are important to you, Libra. You like to look good (no shame in that), so your dance bag is always stocked with the essentials: extra hair spray, lip gloss, concealer, bobby pins and a spare leotard, in case you get just a bit too sweaty.

You also love to socialize, so if this were the 1950s, we would say that you always keep your date book in your dance bag. As it is, you always have your phone with you, and it's usually blowing up with texts from your dance besties asking to make plans.

Your dance bag wouldn't be complete without your secret supply of chocolate. But to be clear: This isn't your average Hershey's bar. Libras aren't afraid to indulge, so you keep a bar of luxury dark chocolate tucked away for when the cravings hit.

Scorpio

You can't fool us, Scorpio—the contents of your dance bag aren't some big mystery, like you'd like us all to believe. In fact, they're pretty basic: For starters, you always have a black leotard or two in your bag. After all, black is your signature color.

One thing that isn't in Scorpio's dance bag? Toe pads. You love to look tough, so you'd never be caught dead wearing toe pads with your pointe shoes. However, this does mean you need a hefty supply of Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters.

You also love all things mystical and, dare we say, witchy. You're the Halloween queen of the zodiac, after all! So it's no surprise you always have a crystal or two in the front pocket of your dance bag. Let us guess…moldavite?

Sagittarius

You're an explorer, Sagittarius, and that applies to your dancing. You're always trying new dance styles, and that's reflected in your dance bag. You always have the trappings of your latest obsession in your bag: heeled shoes for ballroom, kneepads for contact improv, sneakers for breaking, the list goes on and on.

But on all of your adventures, there's one consistency: You love making memories. And that means literally—you document everything. At each performance or recital, you're bound to be the one with a Polaroid or disposable camera in your bag, and you can usually be found snapping backstage candids of your dance besties.

Your other favorite form of documenting? Writing it down. You love to learn, so you're always taking notes. You can usually be found after class scribbling down your dance teacher's latest piece of wisdom. Your dance bag is crammed with half-filled notebooks, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Capricorn

You like to be prepared, Capricorn. And we mean prepared—for every bad scenario imaginable. That's why your dance bag is a mini survival kit. The first Capricorn dance bag guarantee? A stitch kit, of course. Losing a ribbon on your pointe shoe mid-rehearsal is your worst nightmare.

You also always have at least three spare leotards handy. After all, what if you spill something, or get too sweaty or, worst of all, show up to an audition in the same leotard as your dance rival? No, thank you. As a Capricorn, you're expecting the best and preparing for the worst.

Another key to your survival kit? Headphones, so you can drown out the noise around you and focus on your dancing. And before anyone asks, the answer is yes, you have the perfect playlist—for each and every occasion.

Aquarius

Aquarius, you love helping others. That's why it sometimes seems like your dance bag isn't even for you—it's filled with stuff you bring for your friends. Snacks for one dance bestie, Band-Aids for another, and tampons, of course, just in case anyone needs one.

But when it comes to you, you're all about originality. That's why you always have tons of fun accessories in your bag: striped legwarmers, colorful socks, tie-dyed sweats and more than a couple of fun additions to your ballet bun, just to make it a little more interesting.

You're also a rebel at heart, Aquarius, which is why there's usually something in your dance bag that just borders on breaking the rules. Maybe your studio is strictly black leotards only—and yours is gray. Or phones are completely banned—and you just put yours on vibrate. We see you.

Pisces

Like your fellow water sign Cancer, you're big on hydrating during dance class. But as a Pisces, you're a little more imaginative (and a little less practical), meaning you're usually carrying your water in something aesthetically pleasing, like a mason jar, a tumbler, or one of those fancy water bottles with a crystal in the base.

Unlike Cancer, you're a mutable sign, meaning you can adapt to just about any situation. Counterintuitively, this actually means your dance bag is pretty sparse. Unlike other zodiac signs who feel the need to overprepare in case of disaster, you're comfortable in most situations, and your dance bag reflects it. You like the basics, nothing else.

Something most people might not know about you, though, is that you get cold easily. We're not sure why, but it's a Pisces staple. That's why if you keep anything in your dance bag, it's the coziest of warm-ups.

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