Looking ahead to 2024: Dancers reflect and refocus

New York City Ballet's Christina Clark in George Balanchine's 'Haieff Divertimento'. Photo by Erin Baiano.
New York City Ballet's Christina Clark in George Balanchine's 'Haieff Divertimento'. Photo by Erin Baiano.

With 2024 just around the corner, Dance Informa took the opportunity to speak with professional dancers to hear their perspective on looking ahead to a new year. How do they reflect on the year that just (very quickly) passed, and how will they refocus their intentions or goals for the new year ahead?

When you look back on the past year, what was one of your top personal highlights?

Christina Clark, corps de ballet dancer with New York City Ballet

“A particularly special experience this year was debuting the principal role in Haieff Divertimento, a wonderful yet rarely performed Balanchine ballet. In 2020, performances of this ballet were canceled due to COVID lockdowns, and at the time, this cancellation was devastating­­. It was one of the first opportunities I would have had to perform a principal role, and my partner and I had spent months rehearsing. But when this ballet returned this past winter season, I realized that those three years weren’t time lost. Instead, they offered me the chance to gain artistry, strength, perspective and an even deeper appreciation for this art form, all of which added new layers to my approach to the role. Dancing this ballet was a highlight of my career and an apt reminder that the best things in life happen in their own time.”

Alex Clayton, dancer with Paul Taylor Dance Company

“One of the top highlights of 2023 was performing at Lincoln Center at the David Koch Theater. It’s always a wonderful experience – the culmination of months of hard work and artistry. Working alongside my talented peers at our peak of performance is amazing. It’s a transcendental experience.”

Boston Ballet in My'Kal Stromile's 'Form and Gesture'. Photo by Theik Smith, courtesy of Boston Ballet.
Boston Ballet in My’Kal Stromile’s ‘Form and Gesture’. Photo by Theik Smith, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

Courtney Nitting, artist with Boston Ballet

“I am very lucky to say that looking back on this past year includes lots of great highlights, but one of my top favorites would be dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy. This has been a dream of mine like many young girls since as far back as I can remember. It was a special performance as my family was in the audience and my debut was a school-specific show (meaning the entire audience was made up only of children). I was very nervous backstage before my first entrance; however, this little girl who was dancing as a tiny angel in the cast came up to me and gave me the biggest hug under my tutu stating, ‘You’re the fairy today!’ To see her face light up just made my heart melt in the sweetest way. My nerves definitely turned into excitement after that. My Cavalier for the show was one of my dearest friends which also made the connection on stage even more genuine. After the curtain went down, the congratulations I received from everyone, including a fellow company member who is practically like family to me, is a moment I hold close to my heart. This was an experience in my career I will never forget and cherish forever.”

How are you going to make the most of your holiday break?

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Vincenzo Di Primo. Photo by Rachel Neville.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Vincenzo Di Primo. Photo by Rachel Neville.

Vincenzo Di Primo, artist, Complexions Contemporary Ballet 

“I’ll be spending a couple of weeks back home in Sicily, to spend the holidays with many of my family and friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. Having this time allows me to really disconnect from New York City, and come back feeling refreshed and ready to start the year.”


“The holiday season for professional ballerinas like myself is one of the most rewarding times, but also the busiest time of the year. The Nutcracker is a tradition that I am blessed to be a part of to spread holiday cheer to others; however, it also means sacrificing time with our own families. For my holiday break, I plan to truly enjoy quality time with my family. This is one of the biggest ways I rejuvenate my whole being before heading back to work in the new year. I find recovering the mind, body and soul all together makes for a much better balanced ‘me’.”


“During the holiday break, it’s so important to reconnect with my emotional base, friends and family, as well as rest my body. I schedule massages, load up on Epsom salt, catch up on lost sleep and enjoy a well-deserved lethargic holiday.”


“The holidays are not much of a break for us! New York City Ballet has nearly 50 performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.Yet, truth be told, having grown up at the School of American Ballet where I danced as a child in The Nutcracker, my holidays have always been spent at the ballet, and performing in this production is my favorite holiday tradition. Outside the theater, I love going on winter walks in Central Park, decorating the tree with my family, watching lots of Christmas movies, and scouring bookstores and the Christmas markets for unique and personal gifts.”

What are your plans for the new year?


“My plans for the New Year are to continue to grow and push myself in new ways not as just the word ‘dancer’ but as an artist. This last year, I made a huge career adjustment by changing companies, and I am loving the process of discovering new things amongst myself through the artistic staff’s guidance as well as watching the other dancers around me. I find making resolutions doesn’t typically last for me, but rather staying consistent with something I want to accomplish is more realistic. I think more on the aspect of completing the marathon rather than winning the sprint and so the work will continue on even after taking a little break to rest. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to experiencing more of my new city, meeting new people and growing entirely as a human in the new year.”


“Our winter and spring seasons at New York City Ballet are filled with amazing repertory by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and many others, so I am excited to revisit some favorites like The Four Temperaments and Copland Dance Episodes, as well as learn and perform new ballets. I am also a part-time student at Columbia, and this spring I am looking forward to taking a Shakespeare course. Hopefully a road trip at some point as well, but that is still in the works!”


“My plans for the new year are to further my artistic ventures, both dance and visual art-based. I paint on the side and would love the opportunity to expand my artistic portfolio as well being a source of inspiration for new choreographers.”

Di Primo

“I try not to focus much on New Year’s resolutions and try to continue each day with the momentum that I had from the previous.”

How do you hope to refocus for the new year?

Paul Taylor Dance Company's Alex Clayton. Photo by Rachel Neville.
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Alex Clayton. Photo by Rachel Neville.


“I’m always trying to refocus myself on the task at hand. Truthfully, timelines can fluctuate based on what’s needed, so I try to make myself flexible. I have personal goals that can be accomplished independently of others and then communal goals with work and friends that require teamwork.”


“I hope that the lessons I’ve learned to get to where I am now will continue to help guide me to refocus in the new year. Most of these things are not dance-related at all. Some that personally work for me include enjoying a slow morning with a chai tea latte, some journaling and picking up an inspiring read that is typically nonfiction. These are just a few of the tools that I have added into my routine to keep myself centered, and I plan to apply these but also discover and learn new ways that help my mind and body. I once heard that ballet is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. My personal discovery on this topic would agree with this assessment, and so I find that taking the time to not only work on yourself as a dancer but on who you are on the inside as a person really will help you to succeed in everything and anything in life.”

Di Primo

“I want to remain positive, continue to grow artistically, and keep seeking new opportunities to advance my career.”


“Whether it is thinking about the placement of my feet or assessing whether I am in line, often my focus as a dancer must be on myself and how my body is moving through space. While it is certainly important to focus on these things, my favorite memories in my career have been when I have shifted my focus outwards and found moments of connection with my colleagues. I am surrounded daily by people who each possess an immense amount of artistry and knowledge, so in this upcoming year, I hope to find new ways to learn from and be inspired by those around me.”

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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