American Ballet Theater Dancer’s House Doubles as a Studio

American Ballet Theater Dancer's Home Doubles as a Studio

The one-bedroom cooperative in Queens that Calvin Royal III shares with partner Jacek Mysinski isn't what you would call expansive. Mr. Royal, recently named director of the American Ballet Theater (the third black dancer in A.B.T. history to achieve this rank), made it safely in the shade under a jeté from the front door to the balcony.

But who is complaining? Not Mr. Royal, who still feels the same quiet pleasure in the apartment – every 500 square meters – that he had when he bought it in 2014. "I was just excited to have a place that was my own," he said. "Even if it wasn't the largest room in town, it was mine."

Mr. Royal moved to New York from the Tampa Bay, Florida area when he was 17 when he was offered a scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (J.K.O.), which was given to A.B.T. He first lived in an apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where he shared a bedroom with a ballet colleague. Then, after four years, he learned that a family friend who owned a brownstone in Crown Heights was happy to take him in – and give him his own room.

"Through this process of living with her, she has shown me how to manage my money and save," said Mr. Royal. “I told her I wanted to own my own property one day and she was like a guardian angel, organizing my life and finances. After four years she said to me, "Calvin, you have accumulated enough savings. This is the time to buy."

Occupation: Principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater

Pay attention where you step: “The opportunity to go outside right from your home… and during the pandemic, I have the opportunity to enjoy it. I do Pilates and a full barre and ballet class on the balcony. But I can't move across the balcony like I can across the studio. "

A friend of J.K.O. encouraged Mr. Royal to visit Woodside, Queens, and to point out the cultural diversity, neighborhood feel, and abundance of express trains that make their way to Lincoln Center, home of A.B.T.

It should be said that Mr. Royal did not jump. He approached the apartment search like a new role: meticulous and methodical. Nor was he deterred by the missteps of others. “When I saw this apartment it had a terrible burgundy carpet and one wall was painted red,” he said.

Easy to fix – and there was the outside area which now contains a trellis, a Japanese maple, and several heavily laden tomato plants. "I always tell people the apartment is like my tree house because there is this huge tree in front of the window," said Mr. Royal. "It's kind of embedded in there."

While living in Crown Heights, Mr. Royal routinely set aside part of the fees for his side appearances at the Vail Dance Festival and the Ballet Sun Valley Festival. "I thought if I ever bought a seat and needed some work, I wanted those savings to be used for what needs to be done."

That way, Mr. Royal was able to refinish the floors and install a new kitchen with granite countertops, recessed lighting, a large new sink, and Shaker style cabinets.

Mr. Mysinski, a companion of A.B.T. and a concert pianist who moved in with Mr. Royal in 2016 after a year of dating. Among other things, he brought a piano, stereo and a statue of Buddha that stands on the balcony and supervises Mr. Royal & # 39; s morning yoga. It was Mr. Mysinski who built the floating laminate front desk in a corner of the living room overlooking the balcony.

"He did it before the pandemic," said Mr. Royal. "But because of the pandemic, we actually used them and not this thing we sat over from time to time."

If the apartment has a decor scheme, it could be called Cactus Country Casual. Two cushions with a southwest print are arranged on the gray sofa by Ikea. When Mr. Royal and Mr. Mysinski were visiting Utah's Zion National Park a few summers ago, they came across a Native American art gallery and came home with two small rectangular rugs. A trip to the Grand Canyon put a dream catcher on the net. On the occasion of the recent anniversary, the couple's gift was a photo of Antelope Canyon that Mr. Mysinski had taken. Mr. Royal had it blown up and mounted on canvas.

Recognition…Calvin Royal III

"We had to postpone a vacation on the west coast, partly because of the blazing fires that are currently taking place in the region we were about to visit," said the Polish-born Mysinski. "So we're doing everything we can to create an environment that reminds us of the times we were able to go there, and this picture helps."

But her collection of memories is all over the map. The bookcase contains a sculpture of a hand from the Rodin Museum in Paris and a bottle of sand scooped from a Florida beach during a trip to see Mr. Royal & # 39; s family. On the TV stand: Keys to the City of St. Petersburg, an honor given a few years ago when Mr. Royal performed in his hometown.

In-person company courses, rehearsals and performances are mostly interrupted during the pandemic. One victim was a historical production of "Romeo and Juliet" with Mr. Royal and his colleague Misty Copeland, the first black leading actor in A.B.T. Dancers who are to be cast in the title roles.

But of course the work continues. "The home has turned into my personal office, my personal studio," said Royal. Every day he unfolds a square with studio floors, rolls out a newly acquired portable bar – why, he wonders, didn't he buy one earlier? – and goes through the rituals of the dancer in the living room or on the balcony. Then he hands the room over to Mr. Mysinski, who has his own practice.

"There may be times when I do my bar and he goes out on the balcony or walks and vice versa," said Mr. Royal. "Over the past six months we've given each other the space we need so we don't go crazy."

Nobody had the opportunity to spend much time in the apartment before. And they've never had so much time as a couple. It's a very nice interlude.

"We watch shows together and cook together," said Mr. Royal, whose fridge is adorned with recipes for (mostly) vegetarian dishes. "Ultimately, it would be great to have more space so that we can visit the family when it is safe again." More space would be ideal. "

"But," he added, "this is the very first place I've ever bought, so it will always have that special place in my heart."

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