Kyle Froman, courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Ailey II Standout Caroline Theodora Dartey on Beyoncé, Bad Habits, and Why She Doesn't Need to Dance "Pretty"

With effortless extensions, sky-high leaps, and equal parts elegance and strength, Ailey II company member Caroline Theodora Dartey is impossible to miss onstage. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Dartey actually started out training in rhythmic gymnastics, where she earned both national and international titles. She later took up dance, training at the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique, Danse et Théâtre of Geneva before deciding to move to NYC to pursue her dream career. She joined The Ailey School as a scholarship student in 2016, and is now embarking on her second season with Ailey II. Catch Dartey on tour with Ailey II all over the world this fall, and read on for The Dirt.


Do you have any favorite quotes or mantras?

"I am not my hair." —India Arie

What's your favorite food?

Fried plantain with rice and lentils.

Who's your dance crush?

Kenzo Alvares

Who is your dance role model, and why?

I have several, but right now I really follow Izzy Odigie. She is an Afro-style dancer. I think she has such a unique way to move and I love that.

What do you love most about dance?

I love moving my body in a way that feels good. It doesn't have to be "pretty." It should be REAL.

Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?

Yes. I forgot the step: the step was on the floor and I was the only one standing up in the middle.

Do you have any bad dance habits?

I sometimes don't warm up...

If you could work with any performer, past or present, who would it be?

BEYONCÉ

What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?

My kneepad made from a sock.

What's your biggest piece of advice for young performers?

If you want something, just GO FOR IT. PERIOD.


A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Dirt: Caroline Theodora Dartey."

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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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