San Francisco Ballet soloist Lauren Strongin's classic grace and powerful acting skills captivate audiences. The Los Gatos, CA, native trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet and the John Cranko School before joining Houston Ballet in 2009. In 2015, she came to SFB as a soloist and has since danced principal roles in ballets including Giselle, Swan Lake, "Rubies," and Onegin. This month, catch her performing with SFB in New York City Center's Balanchine: The City Center Years program. —Courtney Bowers
What's your go-to stress reliever?
Meditation or a hot bath.
What's your favorite book?
Hard to pick one…James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, Kerouac's On the Road, and Dostoyevsky's The Idiot are a few.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, an English bulldog named Orson. He's the best man ever.
Who are your dance crushes?
Taylor Stanley and Marianela Nuñez.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Taking long showers, "RuPaul's Drag Race," baked goods…I'm not very guilty though!
What's your advice for young dancers?
Really get to know who you are and trust it. Your individuality is your greatest strength.
Who are your dance role models?
Growing up it was Sylvie Guillem and Gelsey Kirkland—for their fearlessness. Later it was Alina Cojocaru for her depth and Tanaquil Le Clercq for her range.
What's the most-played song on your playlist?
Recently it's been Twain's Rare Feeling album and Childish Gambino.
What foods can't you live without?
French fries—my first word was "fry"—oysters, and cake.
Do you have any nicknames?
LL, LC, String
Who would play you in a movie?
I've been told I look like Natalie Portman, but I was named after Lauren Bacall.
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
I played the drunk stepmother in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Before my solo, the skirt is supposed to be pulled off by my daughter—only it wouldn't come off and we were stuck together in silence for what felt like an eternity!
What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?
Buddhist prayer beads
Do you have any pre-performance superstitions?
I have a lucky horseshoe that I've had since I was young. I bring it with me for every performance.
Where do you feel happiest?
At home with my husband and dog
What would you be if you weren't a dancer?
If you could work with any choreographer who would it be?
Do you have any bad dance habits?
Holding my breath, but I'm working on it!
If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
A version of this story appeared in the October 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Dirt with Lauren Strongin."