Courtesy NYCDA

The Whole Dancer: NYCDA's Suzi Taylor on Why Dancers Should Be Kinder to Themselves

New York City Dance Alliance wouldn't be the same without the warmth and positivity of master teacher and choreographer Suzi Taylor, who has been with the organization since its inception in 1994, and is a beloved staple at Steps on Broadway, Pace University, and companies around the world.

Taylor prioritizes physical and mental health in all her classes, leading students through challenging exercises focused on strength and alignment and emphasizing the importance of self-care. She's known for celebrating the little things in the studio, and for encouraging her students to support one another. So naturally, she's the perfect candidate for our second "Whole Dancer" feature, where we hear from NYCDA dancers, choreographers and teachers about wellness and more:

On her journey with NYCDA:

"I have formed lifelong friendships and been given the opportunity to travel the country and work with many beautiful aspiring dancers. Many of our present teachers were NYCDA kids. Being able to watch their growth and then continue the relationship with them as teachers has been such a gift. The NYCDA community is very special. It really is my second family."

On how she helps dancers through injury:

"I am a firm believer in proper technical training, especially when it comes to alignment. So many injuries occur because a dancer is working incorrectly. Lack of strength and alignment leads to compensation and wear and tear on the joints and muscles. Many dancers have come back to me over the years to regain strength and recover from injuries. I am a very maternal person and I try to always look out for my students. Whether they're suffering from an injury or just having an emotional day, I want my class to be a place they feel safe and cared for."

On the importance of taking a break:

"I hope that my dancers find people that truly support them, that they forgive themselves after a less than successful day in class or auditions and that they find the time to take care of their often overworked bodies. It's also important that they take at least a day every week to enjoy life out of the dance world. I had a hard time with that one when I was young. It is only now that I see how important it is to take a break now and then."

On the bigger picture:

"NYCDA cares about training, building the proper foundation and teaching dancers how to work correctly. But along with the technical knowledge, we hope to communicate that this is only one piece of the journey. We want dancers to take this experience, grow from it and know there will be so many opportunities ahead. We want them to make good friends and nurture those relationships because those are the people who will carry them through the harder times."

On her self-care routine:

"I try to stay in the best physical shape I can, to give myself a barre, go to the gym, take a hot bath every night and eat healthfully. But even more so, I make sure to appreciate every moment I have with my family and friends. I travel so much that home time is precious. It gives me the peace that the sometimes-frenetic world of dance can challenge."

On her best advice for students:

"I would tell my dancers to be kind to themselves, appreciate the small gains and be patient. Work consistently and correctly so that your body is cooperative, feed it well and sleep! Surround yourself with a support system, one that knows the daily challenges of this business. Stay strong and confident in your own self-worth. It is not an easy path, but for many of us, it's the only one."

On her greatest inspiration:

"From my teachers to fellow dancers to ballet superstars that I was obsessed with as a child, I have had many incredible role models. But what continues to inspire and motivate me today are my students. They are the ones who show me that the information I have shared is valuable. They are the ones whose beauty and talent bring my choreography to life. They are the ones whose progress makes my heart happy."

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