Reverence: Prince Charming

Do you get nervous before performing?
Not extremely, but when I do, I don’t mind. Sometimes with nerves comes an extra level of focus.

What’s on your iPod?
Right now I’m listening to alt-J; First Aid Kit; Adams: Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine by San Francisco Symphony; Chopin: The Complete Preludes played by Vanessa Perez; and Dirty Projectors.

Who is your toughest critic?
My most honest critic is still my teacher from the school, Claudio Muñoz. I can always trust that he will tell me if I didn’t get a character quite right or if anything is falling below par.

How are you challenging yourself in class these days?
Recently I’ve been noticing how many dancers don’t use their necks and heads. That’s partly because of our habit of looking in the mirror, but also as a dancer you often think, “I need to look at the audience,” so you stare straight ahead. But in fact, looking at them directly is less important than completing the position you’re in or acting naturally onstage.

What accomplishment makes you most proud?
Becoming one of Houston’s youngest ever principals is something that I’m extremely proud of and still very motivated by.

Your foodie habits are well known. Anything you won’t touch?

Olives. I haven’t given up on trying them, but I have yet to enjoy them.

Are you still a soccer freak?
Absolutely. It hasn’t been a great year for my beloved Chelsea Football Club, but I don’t miss a game.

What has been the toughest role of your career so far?

I’ve always found that comedy is more challenging than drama. I was very nervous about playing Mercutio because he’s so full of humor and complexity, but by the end of the run it had become one of my favorite roles.

What is your secret talent?

If I have one, it’s a secret to me, too.

Latest Posts


The author, Lucy Van Cleef, dancing Balanchine's Serenade at Los Angeles Ballet. Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

My 12-Year Journey to a Bachelor’s Degree While Dancing Professionally

If you'd have told me in 2009 that it would take 12 years to earn my bachelor's degree, I never would have believed you. Back then, I was a dancer in my early 20s and in my second year with Los Angeles Ballet. I was used to the straightforward demands of the professional ballet world. I knew that hard work and willpower were the currency you paid in the studio, and that the thrill of live performance made all that investment worth it. What I didn't know then is how life's twists and turns aren't always so straightforward. In hindsight, I can see how my winding road to higher education has strengthened me—and my relationship with the ballet world—more than I ever could have imagined.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Michael Cousmano, AKA Madame Olga. Courtesy When I'm Her

New Documentary "When I’m Her" Shows How Madame Olga’s Positive Affirmations Can Transform Ballet

Michael "Mikey" Cusumano was a rising star at American Ballet Theatre in the 1990s, joining the company at 15 years old and dancing principal roles by age 16. But the high pressure of ballet proved detrimental to his emotional and mental well-being. "I couldn't find the joy in ballet anymore," says Cusumano.

After 10 years as a professional ballet dancer, Cusumano transitioned to Broadway, where his alter ego, a sparkly-turban–wearing Russian ballet instructor named Madame Olga, was able to fully emerge. In Madame Olga, Cusumano became the ballet teacher he wished he had growing up. While Olga's classes feature the same technical rigor as any other intermediate-advanced ballet class, they also incorporate her signature humor and positive affirmations. It's common for Madame Olga's students to vocalize those affirmations while dancing (for example, saying "love" out loud while doing an adagio combination).

Keep reading SHOW LESS
New York City Ballet principal and Dance Against Cancer Co-Founder Daniel Ulbricht in New York City's Columbus Circle. Travis Magee, Courtesy DAC.

Dance Against Cancer Is Back With a Starry Outdoor Gala—and It Will Also Be Livestreamed

The annual Dance Against Cancer gala is back in full force this year, bringing major dance stars together on Monday, June 21, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Held in Lincoln Center's outdoor Damrosch Park, it will be New York City's largest in-person ticketed event since the onset of the pandemic. And for the first time, this year's gala will also be livestreamed by Nel Shelby Productions for international audiences. The evening's finale—a tribute to first responders, medical professionals, educators, mentors and other heroes who have lost their lives to cancer or are battling it—stars special guest Kevin Boseman, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Graham Dance Company, a cancer survivor, and the brother of the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks