Robbie Fairchild Writes a Letter to His Teenage Self

Photo by New York City Dance Project, courtesy Fairchild

Former New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild has made it to the top of both the ballet and the Broadway worlds—and his career just keeps getting more exciting. Though Fairchild grew up studying jazz and tap in his home state of Utah, he danced with NYCB for nine years before taking his first professional dip in the musical theater world, a 2015 Tony-nominated turn as Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris. (He reprised the role in the West End and on movie screens around the world.) He then danced in A Chorus Line at the Hollywood Bowl, Oklahoma! in London, and in a 2016 concert staging of Kiss Me, Kate before retiring from NYCB in 2017 to pursue theater, TV, and film full-time. Catch Fairchild as early modern-dance icon Ted Shawn in The Chaperone (streaming now), and as Munkustrap in the CATS movie (pouncing into theaters December 20). —Helen Rolfe


Fairchild at age 16, in class at the School of American Ballet (Ellen Crane, courtesy Fairchild)

Trust your instincts, kid. People will be cruel because you're different. But you're supposed to be—no two people are alike. So embrace your individuality and don't try and fit the mold. Learn to love the things that make you different and surround yourself with people who celebrate you. Ask yourself, "What do you want?" instead of asking others, "What would be best for me to desire?" Don't be afraid of the consequences of stepping out and being yourself. Be brave.

A lot of your unhappiness comes from you judging yourself. Throw away your perfectionist ideals but keep your desire for excellence. Your drive and ambition will serve you well; just remember balance. Let the laws of nature guide you more than societal ideology. Think for yourself. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Patience is difficult, especially when you're waiting on yourself, but know that you don't operate like new technology. You take time. All of the best things in
life take time. Love the journey. Love yourself.

Your love for people can easily turn you into a people pleaser. You care so much that you'll sacrifice your own situation to make others happy. Like you would on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on before helping somebody else. Don't for one second think that's being selfish. You'll be a better asset in every area of your life and will be able to give freely if you learn to take care of yourself first.

The greatest limitations you've ever had were the ones you put on yourself. No more unnecessary gravity. Fly. Dream big. Be proud. Be love. Be you.

Robbie

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