Sure, I like visiting New York City, seeing amazing Broadway shows and experiencing the culture. Being in a city different than my own was exciting. The sharp edges of glistening buildings cutting into the blue of the sky were so different than anything I was used to. However, could I call New York ‘home’ permanently? I wouldn’t know for certain until I moved here and fully swallowed every bit of magic hidden on every street corner.
When I would visit, I only took tiny bites out of it, but like really good chocolate, it wasn’t until I had a whole mouthful of New York that I realized how incredible and delicious it really was. I needed a huge, barely-fit-it-into-your-mouth bite to taste just how uniquely sweet this city is. Suddenly the taste was the best I’ve ever had.
It’s a city that makes living feel like a constant, racing adventure. The sidewalk shuffle that initially made me anxious has to me become a strategic challenge that begins the moment you walk out your front door. All of us New Yorkers shift quickly like a game of Tetris, ebbing past each other, each our own mini river of force and intention. We flow around one another, and a collective energy of us all forms in the air. Walking past each unique mini river of a person, you never know which of them is about to have their big break, which of them is doing something amazing today. It could be any of them. I love wondering about who it will be that day as I sidestep my fellow New Yorkers, chassé-ing through the vibrations of us all.
And when I get a moment to take a breath in the middle of these sidewalk races, a moment to look up at the sky at a crosswalk, I no longer frown at seeing the points of buildings aggressively piercing the clouds. I see them as monuments to the accomplishments of the city’s residents. It’s like seeing all the incredible ideas, projects, performances, paintings, books, inventions, innovations, and collaborations of New Yorkers throughout history stacked on top of each other into gleaming silver towers. Each new burst of inspiration becomes a building block.
The buildings are tall because the people here have done a lot; we’ve done enough to reach the sky. Now, I smile when I look up and see the edges of the buildings sharing the same air as the birds and clouds. They’re a reminder that surrounds us, a reminder of what great things we can do in this community of game-changers.
It’s not until you melt into the streets and the cafes and the museums of New York that you recognize what a kaleidoscope of individuality it is. Sitting with an Americano in a French cafe, with some matcha in a Chinese teahouse, with a spicy hot chocolate in a Mexican restaurant; it is as if New York is a mini version of the globe. Inspiration is oozing out of every crack in every graffiti-covered wall that you look at while you embrace the world of a city that New York is. There really is no shortage of magic here, where crumbs of every culture are scattered on the ground for all of us artists and thinkers and innovators to eagerly pick up. I have never been anywhere with so many sparkling crumbs.
It’s the in-between moments that make New York so spectacular. Every dance studio I’ve taken a class in, every audition I’ve attended, and every stage I’ve danced on in this city has been incredible in its own shining way. It is the millions of seemingly mundane subway rides and the cuts through the park that have provided the most opportunities for star-crossed connections and crumbs of inspiration.
Catching the eye of a street musician and smiling on a summer night at a subway stop, watching an old couple steal a kiss behind a newspaper on a bench on a Sunday afternoon, watching a businessman hail a taxi for a mother with a stroller— this place isn’t just made up of big moments of success, it’s truly a community. A community where everyone is working towards some kind of magic, towards some kind of destiny that could only happen here. But throughout it all we all observe each other and feed off the sparkling energy we each give off, connecting in the process.
There’s nothing like it, and I can’t believe at one point I even questioned it. But now that I’m here, now that I’m a New Yorker gliding through this vibrant metropolis of excitement, to say the least- I’m glad I came.
by Emmie Strickland
Bio Update: Currently dancing with NYC-based company Ballet Next under the direction of former ABT principal dancer, Michele Wiles.
Emily Strickland is a professional ballet dancer and writer from Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is currently dancing with Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, where she’s had the opportunity to perform ballets like The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, as well as in a collaborative performance with Cirque du Soleil. Previously she was an artist at Columbia Classical Ballet and a trainee at Richmond Ballet, where she was the featured soloist in Connor Frain’s premiere piece “Inertia”. She has trained with Richmond Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, Nashville Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, she is a ballet instructor at Avery Ballet.
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Broadway Dance Dreams