Daniel Ulbricht, 25, is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. He also teaches and produces shows that mix ballet with contemporary and other dance forms. He'll be performing on Sunday at the UB Center for the Arts. Tickets are a reasonable $26.50, and $16.50 for students. (Think, Ulbricht says, of how much you're saving over a trip to New York City to see such a quality show.)
You were already into karate when you followed your sister to ballet class at age 11. What advice do you give to boys starting out?
Have fun. Explore the feel, and then explore the technique, the discipline. Try to look beyond tights -- though you eventually do have to wear them. My first class was in a sweat shirt, shorts and socks. It's jumping and spinning. I remind kids that if they watch Michael Jordan or LeBron James, it's a lot of the same things, except on a stage instead of a basketball court.
What would you do if you could no longer dance?
If it was within the dance world, I'd aim to be an artistic ambassador or visionary director, open people's eyes up to dance. If I had never been exposed to dance, I think I would have gone into business, Wall Street. It might seem odd, but I am fascinated with the finance world.
How do you stay in shape?
My body has to be in optimum condition at all times. A lot of it is lifestyle, not a "diet." I have to sleep, be on a good eating schedule. I have to load up if I'm teaching or rehearsing. When I'm off, I don't eat as much.
I try to make good decisions: I have to be strong and energetic enough to dance on my two feet. It's not enough to look like you can dance, or to be thin, you have to be athletic and agile. Your body is an instrument; you want to make sure it's tuned, so you can get an optimum performance. If I don't eat breakfast, it sets my day on a downward spiral.
The title of your show, "A Dance Spectacular," has a bit of the razzle-dazzle to it. Why?
This show is a celebration. We will feature dances that are athletic, lyrical, edgy and contemporary. I want to change people's opinion about what ballet is, it's easy to think "tights and tutus."
With shows like "So You Think You Can Dance," and "Dancing with the Stars," dance has a new undertone. People are curious. So, we expect them to come, and we have to keep figuring out how to make it more accessible.
-- Jana Eisenberg