Teresa Reichlen as Odette in Peter Martins' "Swan Lake" (Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

NYCB Principal Teresa Reichlen Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

When you think of a Balanchine ballerina, the dancer you imagine probably looks a lot like Teresa Reichlen. The New York City Ballet principal brings long-legged extensions and queenly poise to her extensive repertory of Balanchine "goddess" roles. She's also a captivating force to be reckoned with in works by Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, and Christopher Wheeldon. Born in northern Virginia, Reichlen began training at age 10 at the Russell School of Ballet. Asked to stay for the winter term following her first summer at the School of American Ballet, Reichlen became a New York City Ballet apprentice a year later. She received her corps contract a year after that. You can see her perform the principal role in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 during the company's annual Saratoga Performing Arts Center residency this week. —Helen Rolfe


At age 16, about to perform Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes" in the School of American Ballet Workshop (courtesy Reichlen)

Dear Tess,

Embrace what makes you different. In a few years you will see the merits of standing out from the crowd. What you excel at is so unique. Even though you may be an outsider where you are right now, don't worry—there are others who have the same passions as you and you will soon find them.

Keep up with school. Even though it can feel like a distraction from ballet at times, in the future it will be what grounds you and inspires your artistry.

You don't have to give into peer pressure to be cool; you have so much talent and it is OK if you want to put all of your energies into that. When you get older and know you didn't squander opportunities for frivolities, that will be a thing of pride.

Choose integrity and hard work over flattery. It will be a constant source of frustration for you, but you will gain respect (and the most devoted, caring friends and support system) because of it.

If something doesn't feel right or fair to you, speak up about it. Just because a few are doing it doesn't make it OK. If you don't feel comfortable confronting someone directly, find a friend to confide in. Tell someone, anyone. You are probably not the only one who feels how you do.

You are a late bloomer, so please be patient. Don't get frustrated with yourself. Put in the hard work and your dreams will come true!

As the title character in Balanchine's "Firebird" (Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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