Five questions for Taylor Gordon
Name: Taylor Gordon
Title: Freelance Ballet Dancer
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in a small town about an hour outside of Boston. But if anyone asks, I’m from Boston; I spent more time going in and out of the city for ballet class, at Boston Ballet School, than I did at home anyway <chuckles>. The commute and the drone of small-town life was not appealing, so the summer I turned 15, I moved alone to The Rock School, a ballet boarding school in Philadelphia.
Even though I had known New York was the place I wanted to be since my first trip here around age 7, (to a dance competition at the magical Marriot Marquis in Times Square), Philadelphia was a decent place to grow up fast. I spent two long years there, graduated from high school at age 16, and immediately signed up for my first New York apartment: a college dorm in midtown Manhattan. This is my 5th year in NYC. It’s home, and I hope I’m here forever!
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
Is it cheesy if I say The Nutcracker? I first saw Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker when I was probably 4 or 5 years old and my parents say I was just mesmerized by it. Two years later I danced my first season onstage in that same production, and it was the start of my obsession with performance. All I did was stand there as a “doll” during the battle scene, but oh, that stage. If it wasn’t already clear, I knew then that I wanted to dance forever. To this day when I see a Nutcracker, or hear the music playing it has a huge influence on me…
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
It depends on the day. There are so many things I want in life. Some days I wish I could sing. Some days I wish I could not worry so much about the future. Some days I wish I were blonde. For me, life is constantly about the pursuit of those skills, talents, attributes, and whatnot that are so elusive. I think it’s boring if you’re simply satisfied with what you have.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
Right now I am fortunate – SO fortunate – enough to be making a living from my dancing. I’m currently dancing in my 2nd season of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular as an ensemble dancer. It’s an insane schedule and a physically grueling job, but I can’t express how thankful I am to be an employed dancer – at least for 3 months of the year.
A normal day depends on what our show schedule is like. If we have only 2 or 3 shows that day (the norm) I start my day with ballet class. Most of the rest of the cast thinks I’m crazy for getting up and dancing even more than we have to. My body needs it though, and I love my teacher. Her class gets me set for the day.
Then I’ll usually grab lunch and/or more coffee, and head to the theater. Hair and makeup take about half an hour, then I check emails for another half an hour, and then at our half hour call I start to get dressed and stretch a bit for the first show. That process repeats for 2, 3, or 4 shows a day. Home – crash – repeat the next morning.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
I don’t know that I’ve ever had to make an extreme either/or decision between the two. I like to find some kind of compromise. I think the biggest fork in the road I’ve faced so far like that was deciding to go to college right after high school, whereas many ballet dancers on a path similar to mine opted out. I had a strong interest in writing/journalism, and I really didn’t want a degree in dance, so in my 3 years of college/grad school I chose to bombard myself with work and pursue a double life: work in publishing through many, many internships on top of school work, while simultaneously training 30 hours a week at Ballet Academy East, a professional ballet school. It wasn’t easy to find that balance between work and art, but it’s always been worth it to me.