Balancing Grace and Athleticism: An Interview with New York City Ballet Soloist, Emilie Gerrity

Interview by Rachel Brodine

Portrait © James Jin

Emilie Gerrity was born in Danbury, Connecticut, and began her dance training at the age of five at Betty Jean’s Dance Studio in Wappingers Falls, New York before studying at the New Paltz School of Ballet. Ms. Gerrity attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, during the summers of 2004, 2005, and 2006, before enrolling as a full-time student in winter 2006.

While at SAB, she performed George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco as part of Protégés II at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in June 2008. Ms. Gerrity was named as an apprentice in 2009 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. In February 2017, Ms. Gerrity was promoted to soloist.

Rachel: How has being a dancer influenced the importance of health and wellness in your life?

Emilie: I feel it has influenced me in many ways. I obviously have physical activity in my daily life, but I love learning new workouts and exercises that I can do to strengthen myself for the stage. It has also helped create a good mentality of what it’s like to work hard and be determined. I’ve learned the body is an amazing thing. Even when you feel exhausted there is always that extra push left somewhere in you! 

R: As a dancer, how do you maintain balance between what you eat and fueling your body for optimal performance?

E: I honestly love to eat healthy food. Those being a ton of fruits and vegetables. With that being said, I always allow myself to eat whatever I’m craving and also eat desserts too. I know that you need to fuel your body and that whatever you put into it, you will get out of it. I tend to think more about it when I’m training or in season. I plan and think about the next day when I am trying to fuel for a hard day and hard shows to keep that energy up! I try to eat very nutrient rich meals. I tend to eat a huge breakfast and dinner. Lunch is whatever I have time for during the busy rehearsal day with a ton of snacks in between. My go to is often a protein, either a pasta or potato, and a vegetable or salad! 

R: What is your go to meal?

E: I absolutely love Chicken Parm! That’s a staple. I also always have a Taco or Fajita night once a week. Another go to is a Buddha Bowl or a Bibimbap. That includes rice or quinoa with a few different roasted vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, squash, sweet potato, onion) etc. Sometimes I’ll add meat or fish on top, and other times I’ll put an over-easy egg on top with homemade spicy dressing! 

R: What is your favorite recipe?

E: My favorite recipe is an Almond Flour Banana Bread! 2 cups almond flour, 3 medium bananas, a tablespoon vanilla extract, a tablespoon of baking soda, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 eggs, I add a dash of cinnamon because I love it, and chocolate chips which I usually eyeball it.

R: Do you have a structured daily routine and do you think it is important?

E: I do think a structured daily routine is important, but I also like to insert a little bit of a go with the flow attitude if something comes up! During this time, I definitely try and keep pretty structured as far as taking class everyday 6 days a week. I take a Pilates class twice a week with Laurie Hurt, and I try to get some kind of cardio in every other day just to maintain my stamina. 

R: How have you maintained a positive mindset, especially during Coronavirus? Also, how do you stay motivated? 

E: I’ve definitely had my down days. It’s hard to feel stripped of the thing you love to do. For me, teaching has given me so much joy and motivation. I get the motivation from passing down the knowledge and seeing my student get it, apply the correction and really understand. It makes me want to work even harder! 

Photo © Emilie Gerrity’s personal archive

R: Who inspires you most?

E: This question is so hard to answer. I feel like I am inspired by people on a daily basis. People I know and work with, (Sara Mearns, Megan Fairchild) my family, my boyfriend, and then things I witness in day to day life in the world. 

R: What are your words of advice for young artists?

E: My words of advice, I say stay true to who you are. Work hard! Be kind! Lift each other up! Talk or ask people who inspire or you look up to for advice (this is something I’ve done often in my career.) 

Emilie Gerrity is participating in AWB Mentorship program and she is currently teaching Ballet and Balanchine technique with virtual classes on Mondays at 12:00pm EST. To learn more and to register, please visit AWB Educational Programs. Upcoming classes with Emilie Gerrity: 6, 13, 20, 27 July.

Photo © Emilie Gerrity’s personal archive