I’ve dealt with rejection in this industry and for me I had to step away as a form of protection for myself. I had to believe in myself first.—Antuan Byers
Antuan Byers is a dancer, a teacher, and a choreographer. He’s performed with many dance companies including the Washington National Ballet, Ailey II, and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet as well as his own company, the Antuan Byers Project. Antuan graduates from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program this May. He lives in New York City.
What time do you get up?
I usually wake up promptly every morning around 7a.m. Shoutout to my internal clock.
What time do you go to sleep?
I try to be in bed by midnight every night.
Is your creative work your full-time job?
Yes it is! And I’m grateful that I get to say that. Not many dancers can.
Do you wait for inspiration before you begin or do you begin regardless of inspiration?
I usually start inspired in some way but, if not, I’ve found that it’s best to “just do it” and the inspiration will come naturally as I work at my craft.
How many hours a day, on average, do you do your creative work?
At least five. At most twelve.
At what point are you done for the day?
When the curtain comes down and I’m satisfied with the amount of unanswered emails in my inbox.
Do you work primarily in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
All of the above.
Do you have a daily routine for your creative work?
I usually have company class (a warm up class, usually ballet) starting around 10 a.m., then I have rehearsals until around 6pm, sometimes later. My shows in the evenings start around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. and go until 10 p.m. or later.
How has your creative process changed over the years?
When I was in school I took way more dance technique classes. Now, as a professional, it’s a lot less about taking as many classes a day than about developing artistry, efficiency, and remaining consistent.
Do you have a dedicated work space?
Yes, the dance studio.
If yes, do you have anything in your work space to encourage creativity?
My peers encourage a lot of my creativity. I’m lucky enough to work with some of the most talented dancers on the planet in some of the most beautiful theaters in the country and the world. That in itself is very inspiring.
How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, interruptions, and other distractions?
I don’t allow the world of social media to be distracting. Instead I let it enhance my art. Social media has opened up a new platform for me to share my art with more people around the world than I could ever imagine.
How do you maintain your creative energy?
Breaks are very important. As dancers sometimes (read: a lot of the time) we over do it. It’s extremely important to tell yourself when to chill out a bit. Food is also important. Contrary to many myths about dancers we actually need a lot of food to fuel our bodies so that they can make it through those 12 hour days I was talking about earlier.
What other activities do you engage in to encourage your creativity outside of your creative work time?
I really enjoy hanging out with friends, visiting museums, and catching up on my favorite Netflix series. I try to live life as much outside of the studio as much as I do inside. That’s what informs art.