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A (Very) Busy Day in the Life of PNB's Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz

Lindsay Thomas for Pointe

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz became friends almost 15 years ago, standing at the back of a rehearsal studio with their fellow corps de ballet members. "We were fourth cast in one of the ballets," Dec recalls, "and we said, 'Let's do something. We can't just hang around here!' "

So, in their free time, Dec and Cruz started working together on a pas de deux from Don Quixote.

They weren't a couple yet, but it didn't take long for their friendship to deepen into romance. They started dating and eventually married, in 2009.

The couple often brings their work home, studying videos or talking through complicated choreography. But these days they have less free time to think about ballet. Two years ago, they were finally cast together in the lead roles in Don Quixote, the culmination of the dream from their corps days. Afterwards, Dec told Cruz it was time to start a family. "I thought, 'I've gotten to do everything I wanted to do.' I felt so blessed, and I was like, 'What are we waiting for?' "

In January 2016, Dec and Cruz welcomed their son, Koan, into the world. Life with a baby is tough, but Cruz insists that parenthood has made them better artists. "It's like somebody stirs you inside," he says. "When you have a cup of coffee, and all the sugar is on the bottom and you stir it? Something changes inside of you. We've become stronger."

Pointe spent a day with Cruz and Dec to see how they do it all.

Photo by Lindsay Thomas


"We wake up at 5 am," Cruz laughs. "Then we go downstairs with the baby and sing 'Hakuna Matata' for a long, long time." Dec adds, "That's the only way he'll eat his breakfast."


Photo by Lindsay Thomas


Cruz's mother relocated to the Seattle area from Cuba to help take care of the baby. That eased Dec's transition back to work. She's also had a lot of support from the other mothers at PNB. "Anytime I'm about to have a breakdown, or if I have a question, I can go to numerous moms in the company."


Lindsay Thomas

Before they head to the studio, the couple gets some early morning work done. This year they launched their own leotard company, Solu, with seven styles. They hope to add tights, warm-up wear and athletic gear in the future.


The couple lives 45 minutes from the PNB studios in Seattle. They leave the house every morning at 7:45 am to ensure they make the 9:15 company class.


Photo by Lindsay Thomas

In November, Dec broke her fifth metatarsal on her right foot. She was immobilized in a boot with orders not to put weight on it for three weeks. Her biggest worry was how to take care of Koan. "Karel kept reminding me this is a dark period, but that I know how to get back from an injury and I'm going to be okay," she says. Her full recovery took a little over three months, and she returned to class in February.


Photo by Lindsay Thomas

Cruz finishes class with a giant saut de chat.


Photo by LindsayThomas.

After class, the couple pairs begins rehearsals for PNB's March "Director's Choice" program. These days when they're in the studio together, Cruz and Dec seem calm, centered and secure. When she launches herself into a jump, Dec always trusts Cruz will be there to catch her. "Maybe it's because we're husband and wife," Cruz remarks. "We know we're there for each other." Dec agrees: "We're not that couple that fights when we rehearse. We're respectful of each other."



Photo by Lindsay Thomas

Dec in rehearsal with Miles Pertl and ballet master Anne Dabrowski. On performance days, Dec tries to sneak home in the afternoon, to spend time with the baby. "Even if I only have 45 minutes, that's 45 minutes playing with him, putting him to sleep, 45 minutes I have that he wouldn't normally see me."


Photo by Lindsay Thomas

During her break, Dec receives in-house physical therapy on the foot she injured in November.


Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Chilling out in the dancers lounge afterwards. "I think about working together in the corps, and how much ambition we had at that time," says Cruz. "Now I look at the results of everything we've done. It brings an emotional moment."



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