This month on Post Curtain Chat we have Sean Stewart, dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Sean’s casual, “tell-it-like-it-is” mentality and heart of gold make him a refreshing guy to be around, and on a personal note, he is a wonderful friend of mine! He has led a remarkably diverse career – from his beginnings as a competition dancer, to training at the Paris Opera Ballet School and dancing a varied rep with ABT, this seasoned dancer has seemingly seen and done it all. In this edition of Post Curtain Chat, Sean talks of life in New York City, and schools me on the importance of not throwing around the word “Vegan” too casually!
1. ABT has a quite a lengthy break in the summer after finishing their season at the Met. I know you did some guest work and traveling with your time. What were you up to?
Yeah, this year we had 3 months off and I decided to take full advantage. First, I did a show with John Mark Owen at Jacob’s Pillow. We stayed in this gorgeous log cabin in the mountains, so that’s where I kicked off my vacay. After that, I went to stay at a friend’s lakehouse in Virginia. Then I used some miles to fly to Mount Shasta in Northern California and then to Hawaii. It was a good summer… And thank God for frequent flyer miles!
2. What was your most memorable spot in Hawaii?
I really got into the town of Hale’iwa…SO cute! I also went to this waterfall in Wameia where I was able to swim up and go underneath…incredible!
Want to visit Hale’iwa? Click here!
3. You were a vegan before veganism became popular. Since you’re a pro on the subject, can you tell us a few of your favorite vegan spots in New York?
You have to be careful when throwing around the “Vegan” title, as some people take it very seriously, which I completely respect. I’m not really a Vegan. I just follow a diet comprised of mostly raw plant foods, which excludes animal foods. I do drink wine, which can use animal products in the refining and clarifying process. With that said, I really like the restaurant Counter in the East Village. Angelica’s Kitchen has a few really good items. Peace Food in the Upper East Side is also pretty yummy. Apparently, S’MAC has a Vegan mac and cheese that I’ve never tried. Pure Food and Wine and Quintessence are two “raw food” restaurants that I have frequented as well. There are so many now! I kind of live in the Mecca of Vegan/Vegetarian dining, which I love!
Click here to check out Angelica’s Kitchen in the East Village!
4. I’ve heard from many ABT dancers that the Met Season can be exhausting because of it’s numerous performances over a small period of time. Once a show is finished do you like to go out to unwind? Or would you rather go straight home to your bed?
Toward the beginning of the season, I try to be very responsible because I have to make it through 8 weeks of performing 6 days a week, while rehearsing all day long (after taking daily ballet class). I’ll usually take a taxi straight home after the show and go to bed. Toward the end, I loosen up a bit, especially if I don’t have anything too taxing to dance.
5. You’ve now lived in New York City for 17 years. As I’m sure you know, it can be a challenging place to live for a number of reasons. Can you offer any advice for those who sometimes feel they are being eaten alive by the big city?
I had a very hard time adjusting to the city when I first came here. It’s an amazing city, with everything to offer. I knew that from the moment I got here. I was overwhelmed and exhausted though, as I was going to high school as well as working with a ballet company. Eventually, I found “my” NYC. I like to stay in the village mostly. It it feels more calm to me, but it still retains the youthful energy of the city. When I’m uptown, I’ll take a moment to head into Central Park and recharge my battery. Also, get plenty of sleep! You don’t have to do everything that NYC has to offer!
6. The East Village is one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York right now. As an East Villager yourself, do you have any favorite places to hang down there?
I grew up mostly in the east village, so it really feels like home to me. I never know where anyone goes out there. Lately, I’ve been dropping into Shoolbred’s and Ninth Ward, both have very cool vibes.
Click here to check out Shoolbred’s in the East Village!
7. Finally, give us three words that describe who you are as a dancer, and three words that describe who you are once the curtain has closed.
I’m giving you six words that describe me both in dance and in life: analytical, cerebral, ironic, intuitive, controlled, unpredictable.
Born in Mt. Holly, New Jersey and raised in Vacaville, California, Sean Stewart joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1997. He began dancing at the age of 10 with Lisa Clark, started ballet at 12 with Yanina Cywinska, and went on to study at Joffrey II and the Paris Opera Ballet School. He participated in summer programs for The Joffrey Ballet in San Antonio and the Bolshoi Ballet at Vail.
Stewart left ABT in 2002. He has performed as a guest artist with the Washington Ballet, Ballet NY, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Atlanta Ballet and Chamber Dance Project. Stewart was an original cast member in the Old Globe’s production of Twyla Tharp’s The Times, They Are A Changin’.
Stewart rejoined American Ballet Theatre in January 2008.
In addition to various corps roles in all of ABT’s full-length ballets, Stewart’s roles with the Company include Lankendem in Le Corsaire, the Nutcracker-Prince in The Nutcracker, Benno in Swan Lake and roles in Airs, Black Tuesday, Citizen, Cruel World, The Elements, Marimba, One of Three, Sinfoniettaand Stepping Stones. Stewart created roles in Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, Gong and Known by Heart.
To see Sean and the rest of ABT perform, visit www.abt.org.
Also, look for ABT’s brand new Nutcracker by Alexei Ratmansky this holiday season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music!