Calvin Royal III on Dance: “You Can Tell Stories Without Words”

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Calvin Royal III
Calvin is wearing a one-shouldered top in silk and tailored trousers in wool by FERRAGAMO. His own ring. And loafers in leather by DRIES VAN NOTENPhotography by Fumi Nagasaka, Styling by Raymond Gee

Prolific American dancer Calvin Royal III talks about the influence of his mother, who championed her children’s passions from an early age – including dance

This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine:

“I could name a book or an object, but when I think about my biggest inspiration it’s my mother, Tina. As children, whatever my brother and I wanted to do, she championed. Whether it was sports or art her first response to our ideas was always, ‘When and where?’ It made me feel seen and gave me the courage and confidence to become a professional dancer. My mother was a dancer, too, so when I begged her to take me to an audition I had seen advertised for a local community project, The Chocolate Nutcracker, she was so excited. She has always been a backstage mother, never interjecting or forcing anything. She’s a social worker, so her life is about helping others and that’s what I aim to do with dance. She taught me that telling stories is something we can do without words.”

The US ballet dancer Calvin Royal III personifies patience. In December 2022 he made his debut as the Prince in the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) production of The Nutcracker, 15 years after joining the company and being cast in various small parts in the classic ballet, including as a mouse, a bumblebee and a Spanish dancer. Having trained at the Royal Ballet in London and the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Royal is ABT’s third black principal and has paved his way with lead roles in Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine’s productions of Apollo and Agon. Royal performed a pas de deux from that last ballet at the 2018 memorial held for Arthur Mitchell – the first African American dancer at the New York City Ballet and the originator of Royal’s role in Agon – who had once declared, “If they ever did a film of a young me, it would be Calvin.”

Hair: Adam Szabó at Frank Reps using R+CO. Make-up: Ingeborg using CHANEL. Set design: Lian Calvo. Photographic assistant: Jackson Verges. Styling assistants: Melina Frangos, Terrence Munn and Hamza Saeedia. Tailor: Yana Graham. Scanning: Borough Photo

This story features in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale now. Order here.