Alison Stroming is a Brazilian-born, New Jersey native with dance in her DNA. Raised in a family of dancers, Alison has been in and out of the dance studio since her sandbox days. These days, Alison is a professional ballerina for the Dance Theater of Harlem who fuses personal experience, pop culture, physical discipline, and classical ballet routines to tell stories in motion. CONVICTS recently caught up with Alison to get the lowdown on her grueling physical regimen, the crazy energy of New York City, and finding your happy space on-stage.
Hey Alison. Can you introduce yourself for us?
My name is Alison and I am a ballerina with the Dance Theater of Harlem.
Tell us where you’re from.
I was born in Brazil, then adopted by a family in New Jersey when I was four months old. I grew up in a very small suburban town in Morris County. I had a normal childhood. I went to school, I did cheerleading, soccer, horseback riding, dance.
How were you first introduced to dance?
I come from a dance family. My two older brothers, who I’m very close with, they were actually professional tap dancers so it was really awesome watching them and getting that inspiration.The studio was our second home so my mom put me into classes because she thought it would be a fun hobby.
What about dancing drew you in?
Honestly, it was just fun. I was not very calm as a kid. I had a lot of energy so I just loved dancing around and jumping. I tried everything else but dance was just my favorite.
Even though dance became your career, do you still find it enjoyable?
Yes. The adrenaline, the excitement, the costumes, the makeup, everything-it’s a lot of fun. It’s when I’m my happiest. When I dance I have this sense of freedom. I’m in my safe zone. No matter what is going on in my life, good or bad, when I dance, everything just goes away and I’m just in that moment.
Did you pursue anything else before committing to ballet?
I actually did study acting growing up. That helped because every role has a story behind it. Ballet takes a lot of acting, which is hard because we don’t use words, we just use movement. But that’s just part of being a dancer. You have to fully commit and go to that next level.
How do you enter that creative headspace?
It’s a natural sense, but I use personal experiences that I’ve had with my family or friends, to help take my emotion to that next level. Especially when I’m scared to go there.
Tell us about your daily regimen. What are your working hours? How do you spend them?
I dance with Dance Theater of Harlem and we work Monday through Friday, sometimes six days a week. We have ballet class everyday at 9:30 in the morning, then we’ll rehearse from 11 to 6 pm. We’re dancing the whole time, then we have performances on the road all the time.
That sounds super physically demanding…
Physically, it’s exhausting. So that’s definitely a challenge when my body’s so tired and I’m like ughhh I don’t want to go to dance, but I have to. And you know? This is my job and I love it.
How do you mentally prepare for the day? Do you do anything special to stay on point?
I have this daily routine where I wake up, take a shower, drink my coffee, listen to music, and try to get in the zone. It’s a process, but I’ve been doing this for years now, so it feels natural Also being in New York and having that energy around helps me get up and go because when I’m up, New York is up.
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with New York?
Yea, oh my goodness. I love New York. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. I love the people, I love the energy, the excitement. I feel like I still haven’t even seen all of the city and never will because it’s constantly changing and evolving. There are always awesome places to go, new restaurants. I love Broadway,I love going to see shows. I’m very lucky to live here.
Aren’t we all? Thanks for the chat, Alison, and we’re stoked to see you dance.