New York Called

My view from the Bolt Bus as I wrote this post
Nearly 15 years ago, I sat in the backseat of my mom’s car with my luggage packed in the trunk and stars in my teary eyes. We were waiting in line to pass through the bottle-necking entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel. I had just completed my final year of pre-professional training at the School of American Ballet, was embarking on an exciting career journey, and had just offered goodbyes to many friends that I still remain close to today. While I was sad to say goodbye to my friends and to move on to the next stage of my dance life, I wasn’t crying for either of those reasons. I knew then that it would be quite awhile before I called the city that I felt so closely connected to home. The city that inspired me to work hard. The city that showed me art mattered. The city where I grew from child to man. There I was, in the back seat of the car talking out loud as if the city had ears, “One day you’ll be home again. I’ll be back!” Well, I’m not one to say things that I don’t mean. Today is that day.

Awhile back, I wrote a post titled “New York Calling,” where I considered the fact that New York seems to hold some strange gravitational pull for any artist that calls themselves dancer. At that time, I was caught in the middle of my freelance performance career floating from gig to gig with little direction but the wind. I wasn’t necessarily getting much work in the city, but I was receiving little sparks of possibility as I began dreaming of settling down from traveling for a little bit. While I started feeling that pull to return a few years ago, circumstances just seemed incorrect or impossible to move the hour and a half hop, skip, and jump north of my hometown.

At one point in my life, I would have probably just run with my gut feeling and moved to the city without furniture, job, or care for how I was going to make something happen. But things changed at some point along my artistic journey. When I first met my partner, I gave him the daunting ultimatum, “Don’t make me choose between you and my career...because I won’t choose you.” After agreeing to this intense consideration, he moved to Seattle to be with me (I claimed 2 weeks after he moved that I was auditioning to leave PNB, which took nearly 5 years to actually happen) and later relocated to Philadelphia for the next stage of my career. But by the time I started realizing Philly wasn't working out, I couldn’t choose between him or my career. He had already given up so much just to be with me, so I needed to give him a chance to develop himself and his career. So, I’ve freelanced out of Philadelphia for 4 years and ignored the pull of the dance capitol.

I came to a realization in the last year, mostly brought on by my first extended period of time staying home in Philly the first half of 2015. During my time at home, I did everything that I could possibly do to find inspiring work and connect myself to the greater Philadelphia professional dance scene. I sent applications to teach at pre-professional training programs, I applied for a ballet master position with PA Ballet, and I reached out to find a way to be a part of the greater ballet scene the city has to offer. At one point, I even applied for a week-long collaboration residency that placed Philadelphia-based artists with others in different genres. My rejection letter was kind, but I was disheartened by the feedback that stated, "It seems you are more interested in meeting artists than collaborating with them."

While there were moments of hope, I was left to go back to my regular way of working; creating my own inspiration and traveling the country to places that valued my work. By the time this summer had passed, I began craving outside inspiration and a place to call my artistic home. And it just seemed that Philly wasn't going to offer that to me. I knew what I had to do. But I was afraid to say it. I was afraid to ask. I was afraid to give myself permission. What if I moved to New York?

I spent much of the fall season working on my Core-ography project and developing my AK-BK Intensive Winter Workshop in Anchorage. But New York was on my mind the whole time. Slowly, but surely, I realized that I had to make this happen. During a quick visit to the city right before heading up to Alaska this past December, I mentioned to a good friend that I have freelanced with in the past that I was looking for a place to live. I was just catching this friend up on what I was doing. And, by chance, he happened to have a room opening up at his apartment.

Fast-forward a little over a month later, and here I am (I started this blog on the bus and finished after I settled in) laying in my brand new bedroom, staring out my window at the beaming George Washington Bridge, and smiling after my first day as a new resident of this incredible city. What am I going to do now that I'm here? I don't know. But I am so excited to have hope, possibility, and dreams staring me straight on. I look forward to looking back at this post down the road and seeing where this risk and adventure takes me.

View of George Washington Bridge from my bedroom window


  1. all the very best barry. freelance dancer's life and travel goes together but we also have wishes and dreams that finally lead us to where v belong

    1. Thanks for your support, Ranjana :-D