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?
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?
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.”