I Love My NYC

June 22, 2011

Four dancers share what they love most about the Big Apple, from studios and theaters to restaurants and recreation.

Cameron Adams, Broadway performer

Myrtle Beach, SC, native Cameron Adams’ big break came at age 16: New York City Dance Alliance’s Joe Lanteri recommended the fresh-faced Adams to Jay Binder Casting, which was looking for young teens for an upcoming revival of The Music Man. Adams auditioned, got the job and moved to NYC. Since then, she’s performed on the Great White Way in Oklahoma!, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Shrek the Musical and Promises, Promises. She’s currently dancing in the hit show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“You just can’t go wrong with Broadway Dance Center. There’s no feeling at BDC of ‘this is just for New Yorkers.’ They want people from all over to come take class. Plus, I live next door!” Broadway Dance Center: 322 W. 45th St (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), 3rd Floor, broadwaydancecenter.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“Cosmic Diner is really theater friendly. I go for coffee and breakfast with girlfriends.” Cosmic Diner: 888 Eighth Ave (at 52nd Street), cosmicdinernyc.com

Favorite Place to Perform

“I did my first Broadway show ever, The Music Man, at The Neil Simon Theatre. I also performed in Hairspray there on and off for close to four years, so the crew is like family to me. When I walk by, I stop in and give everybody a hug!” The Neil Simon Theatre: 250 W. 52nd St (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), neilsimontheatre.com (Note: The Neil Simon Theatre is currently home to Catch Me If You Can.)

Favorite After-Work Bite

“Right across the street from the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where I’m in How to Succeed…, is a Japanese restaurant called Kodama. It has great Japanese food. And the owners are good to people in theater—right after our opening, they sent over a platter of sushi!” Kodama Sushi: 301 W. 45th St (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), kodamajapanesenyc.com

Best-Kept Dancer Secret

“There are great inexpensive massage spots all over the city. I go to Rub a Dub in Midtown for an intense deep-tissue massage. They’re used to having dancers and people in the theater business.” Rub a Dub: 670 Ninth Ave (at 52nd Street), 212-265-2788

Favorite Park

“It’s so cool that Central Park is this massive green space in the middle of one of the craziest, most populated cities in the world. In the spring and summer, I like to watch the softball leagues play there, or lay out and picnic.” Central Park: centralparknyc.org

Tip for Navigating the Theater District

“Eighth Avenue and Broadway are generally filled with tourists and people taking their time sightseeing. If you’re in a rush, Ninth Avenue is better. It gets more locals, who walk at a faster pace.”

“I love that, in New York, I can pick any night of the week and any neighborhood and hear live music or see a dance performance. Art is everywhere in this city. It’s unavoidable.”

Francesca Romo, co-founder and performer; Gallim Dance

London-born Francesca Romo got her first taste of dancing in the Big Apple in 2004, while on tour with Richard Alston Dance Company. “We performed at The Joyce, and I went home thinking about the lively dance scene and the energy of the city,” she says. She moved to NYC in 2006, and four months later co-founded Gallim Dance with choreographer Andrea Miller. Romo is in Italy this summer, but catch other Gallim members teaching workshops and classes at studios around the city.

Favorite Places to Take Open Class

“If you’re looking for ballet, there are great classes at Gibney Dance Center. I also take yoga class at Jivamukti in Union Square and gymnastics at Chelsea Piers.” Gibney Dance Center: 890 Broadway (at 19th Street), 5th Fl, gibneydance.org; Jivamukti Yoga School: 841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Streets), 2nd Fl, jivamuktiyoga.com; Chelsea Piers: 23rd Street at the Hudson River, chelseapiers.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“When I’m in Manhattan, I go to 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar. It’s a tucked-away café.” 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar: 71 Irving Pl (between 18th and 19th Streets), irvingfarm.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“My ultimate favorite is the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I hope to perform there someday!” Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM): 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, bam.org

Favorite Place to Perform

“I love Joyce SoHo, and have fond memories of it because it’s where I did my first gig with Gallim. I like to perform in intimate spaces.” Joyce SoHo: 155 Mercer St (between Prince and Houston Streets), joyce.org/joycesoho

Favorite Museum

“Whenever I’m tired, upset or I’ve had enough, I go to the Frick museum. Even if I don’t go in, I love just being near the building. It’s wonderful and personal—it was once someone’s house, so you see his own collection of things.” The Frick Collection: 1 E. 70th St (between Madison and Fifth Avenues), frick.org

Favorite Park

“Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a little more wild than Central Park. You can sit and chill, or you can barbecue with a bunch of people. Plus it’s big but not so huge that you get lost.” Prospect Park: prospectpark.org


Shopping Secrets

“If you’re a book lover, go to the Strand Bookstore—especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. They have a wide selection of books, including new, used and signed copies. One of my favorite shops in Brooklyn is Cog & Pearl, on Fifth Avenue. They have so many little trinkets and beautiful things, and all of the jewelry there is made by different artists.” Strand Bookstore: 828 Broadway (at 12th Street), strandbooks.com; Cog & Pearl: 190 Fifth Ave (at Sackett Street), Brooklyn, cogandpearl.com

Favorite Free Art Fix

“The Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturdays offer free art and entertainment programs every month. There’s great live music, DJs and fun hands-on art projects.” Brooklyn Museum: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, brooklynmuseum.org

“The vibrancy of this city is electric. You can feel it through the fibers of everyone walking around. You know people came here for a reason.”

Justin Peck, New York City Ballet corps member

New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck is a man of many talents. When he’s not performing in the company’s dizzying array of classical, neoclassical and contemporary ballets, you’ll often find this 23-year-old San Diego native choreographing works of his own. This summer, Peck is presenting a new work at Benjamin Millepied’s Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“Wilhelm Burmann teaches a phenomenal open ballet class at Steps on Broadway. A lot of NYCB dancers take it regularly.” Steps on Broadway: 2121 Broadway (at 74th Street), stepsnyc.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“I love the space that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs in. It’s very intimate. It almost feels like an art gallery.” Cedar Lake: 547 W. 26th St (between 10th and 11th Avenues), cedarlakedance.com

Favorite Place to Perform

“The David H. Koch Theater is so well-designed—there’s not really a bad seat in the house.” The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center: Columbus Ave and 63rd Street, lincolncenter.org

Favorite Restaurants

“After a long day of rehearsing and performing, a lot of dancers frequent Café Ronda. They have great steaks and huge salads. For a quick bite, there’s a place called Luke’s Lobster. We’re all hooked on the lobster rolls!” Café Ronda: 249 Columbus Ave (at 72nd Street), caferonda.com; Luke’s Lobster: 426 Amsterdam Ave (between 80th and 81st Streets), lukeslobster.com

Favorite Bakery

“Levain Bakery has the best cookies! They’re enormous mounds of chocolate chip goodness. The owners of this café are triathletes, so their goal is to make a calorie-packed cookie that’s meant to sustain you through a long workout—good for dancers, too.” Levain Bakery: 167 W. 74th St (at Amsterdam Ave), levainbakery.com

Favorite Downtime Activity

“I bike a lot—I’m a big urban biking advocate. There’s a new scenic path down the entire west side of Manhattan. You’ll find all sorts of recreation along the way, including various parks, places to play tennis and Chelsea Piers.”


Favorite NYC Landmark

“The colossal, statuesque Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on 89th Street and Riverside Drive, by Riverside Park, is a great place to go if you want some quiet time to reflect. Riverside Park is so underrated.” Riverside Park: nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark

Best-Kept Dancer Secret

“The amazing Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has the largest dance video archive in the world. You can watch works by anyone from Merce Cunningham to Doris Humphrey to George Balanchine—for free!” New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, nypl.org/locations/lpa

“The quick pace of NYC inspires me. That hustle and bustle has inspired many other choreographers as well; it’s apparent in Jerome Robbins’ pieces.”

Nicole Kroese, dance student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts

After years of training in her hometown of Seattle, WA, Nicole Kroese knew she wanted to attend college in NYC. She ended up at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she’s minoring in business and has been pursuing internships in marketing and advertising on top of her dance life. This summer, she’s taking part in Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s new three-week intensive, CL 360.

Favorite Place to Take Open Class

“Peridance is two blocks from my apartment, so I take Jason Parsons’ class there all the time.” Peridance Capezio Center: 126 E. 13th St (between Third and Fourth Avenues), peridance.com

Favorite Coffee Shop

“Think Coffee and The Bean in the East Village both have great coffee and free internet access. I go there to do homework a lot.” Think Coffee: 248 Mercer St and 123 Fourth Ave, thinkcoffeenyc.com; The Bean Coffee and Tea: 49 1/2 1st Ave (at Third Street), thebeannyc.com

Favorite Place to See Dance

“The Joyce Theater hosts amazing companies. Plus, if you usher there, you can see the show for free!” The Joyce Theater: 175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street), joyce.org

Favorite Place to Perform

“Jazz at Lincoln Center in Columbus Circle. Tisch hosted a gala there last year to honor Billy Crystal, and I was in the opening number. It was so amazing.” Jazz at Lincoln Center: 33 W. 60th St (at Columbus Circle), 11th Floor, jalc.org

Favorite Night Out

“I love going to Rosa Mexicano for birthdays. So delicious.” Rosa Mexicano: 9 E. 18th St (between Fifth Avenue and Broadway), 61 Columbus Ave (at 62nd Street) and 1063 First Ave (at 58th Street), rosamexicano.com

Favorite Weekend Hangout

“My friends and I like long brunches at Café Mogador, in the East Village.” Café Mogador: 101 St. Marks Pl (between First Avenue and Avenue A), #1, cafemogador.com

Favorite Tourist Attraction

“I feel peaceful when I walk along The High Line or Hudson River Park in Chelsea. They’re great places to think and create.” The High Line: Manhattan’s West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, thehighline.org; Hudson River Park: Manhattan at the Hudson, hudsonriverpark.org

“I love that everyone in NYC is so driven. There are inspired, passionate people everywhere. I also love that there are an infinite number of opportunities. You could live here for 50 years and still be discovering places you’ve never been.”