Perspective: Interview + Quarantine Q&A with Lily Gentile

For New York native and Forrest Academy of Ballet New York dancer, Lily Gentile, quarantine has been a time of continued training, ballet video watching, and new creative outlets.  Learn about her journey as a dancer and her tips for handling self isolation like a pro!

Name: Lily Gentile
Age: 17
Where are you from? New York
Where do you currently live/train? Forrest Academy of Ballet New York
What kind of pointe shoes do you wear? Grishko Nova's and Gaynor Minden
Favorite roles/ballets performed: Ocean and Pearl Pas de Trois & Variation, The Little Humpback Horse; Paquita & Swan Lake excerptsvarious contemporary pieces
Dream roles/ballets: Odette/Odile, Swan Lake; Nikiya, La Bayadère; Giselle; Chroma by Wayne Mcregor; In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe
What are your favorite dance wear brands?
Some of my favorite dance wear brands would have to be Susha More, which is a Russian company, Yumiko, Eleve Dancewear, Grishko, and Maldire Dancewear; I think their pieces are so unique and beautiful. 

Lily Gentile © Rachel Neville PhotographyLily Gentile © Rachel Neville Photography

How and when did you begin dancing?
I began dancing when I was four years old. My grandmother and my mother both danced, so naturally, my mom put me into it at a young age... and I've stuck with it ever since!

What has your dance journey been like, so far?
You could say I've had an interesting dance journey, so far. I began dancing at around four years old and then danced recreationally until age eight. Then at around age eight, I decided I really wanted to pursue dance as a career, and I joined a competition team. The following year, I switched to a second studio called Westchester Dance Academy where I danced for nearly six years in ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, musical theater, and I did competitions for five to six years. I was successful at competitions such as The Dance Awards, New York City Dance Alliance, Jump, Nuvo, and 24 Seven. Then in the summer of 2018, I attended the Forrest Academy of Ballet New York Summer Intensive, and I just fell in love with the training from Erin Forrest and Eva Janiszewski. I loved the Vaganova method, and I decided I really wanted to devote my time to studying classical ballet. I really fell in love with the art form. I joined their school in the fall of 2018, and it's now 2020, and I'm still there... I absolutely love it. Throughout the past few years, I've also gotten to do some incredible summer intensives; I've done Complexions, Ellison, Forrest Academy of Ballet, Camp Protégé in Canada. I got to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia this past summer and attend the International Ballet Festival, which was a two week intensive. I got to perform for a live Russian audience at the end, which is probably my favorite dance memory so far.

What’s next for Lily? What are your short term and long term plans/goals?
I'm going to be graduating from high school in about a month and a half, which is super exciting. Then, I hope to continue to grow artistically and technically and just learn as much as I can about this art form. I'm hoping to audition for ballet companies starting next January. My long term goal is to end up in a dream company of mine in Europe.

Lily Gentile © Rachel Neville PhotographyLily Gentile © Rachel Neville Photography

Have you ever tried Pointe Paint before?
I have actually never tried Pointe Paint before, but a few of my friends have, and it looks so beautiful! I really want to try it soon. I would love to try the Buttermilk color because I think it would go along with my skin tone, and I think it is such a beautiful look. It really elongates the line of the leg and the arch. I would also love to try the Dahlia Pointe Paint because pink is one of my favorite colors, and it's so vibrant and beautiful. I think it would be super fun to try it on my shoes!

What is something interesting that people might not know about you?Something interesting that people might not know about me is I really love snorkeling and swimming and just being in the ocean! Sadly, I don't really live by a beach, but I absolutely love to travel. I love swimming, snorkeling, and getting to see wildlife; I think it is so interesting. I also really love fashion. I love Googling and learning about different designers and trends, different textures, and different ways that you can pair things together.

Time for some Quarantine Q&A!

I noticed that you have some really inspiring and motivating Instagram posts to help people during this difficult time we are currently experiencing. How are you staying active and healthy, both mentally and physically, during quarantine?
Due to the current state of the world right now, I, as well as you guys, am currently in self quarantine due to Covid-19, and it has been a complete shift in the way we live our lives and the way that we do the things that we love. So, in order for me to stay physically and mentally healthy, I found that building a set routine has been really helpful for myself. I wake up at around the same time every day, stretch, and then have Zoom online ballet classes with my teacher and my classmates from around 11:00-3:00, which is great because that keeps me mentally strong and physically strong; I'm able to keep conditioning my muscles and stay in shape. After that, I usually do either a contemporary, a modern, or a jazz class, which is super fun because I don't have a ton of time to do that outside of my ballet training, and this opportunity has really allowed me to be able to do that. I also like to do some yoga or stretching. I think just staying active really helps me mentally and keeps me inspired and motivated. Also, doing school (because I'm in 12th grade) helps a lot because I'm still learning and doing normal schoolwork every day. I think finding different outlets, like doing hobbies that you've always wanted to try, helps a lot. Staying connected with your family and loved ones, either in person or through video chat, also really helps.

Lily Gentile © Rachel Neville PhotographyLily Gentile © Rachel Neville Photography

What’s been the most challenging part of self isolation for you?
I think the most challenging part of self isolation for me would have to be not seeing my friends and family; I'm just home with my parents and my brother, but I can't go out and see my other family or spend time with friends. [It's also hard] not doing my daily routine. I'm used to commuting from Westchester into New York City, so that's taking the train, subway, and walking a ton. Not doing that every day has definitely been a big change, but I'm just trying to find the positives throughout the situation.

Have you taken up any new hobbies or interests during your time at home?
During this time at home, I've really enjoyed reading and watching different ballets. I'm currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which is a self care book, and it's super motivating and inspirational. Watching tons of ballets on YouTube has really helped me, and I'm able to learn so much just from watching. I've also really enjoyed doing some D.I.Y. projects. I'm currently working on a vision board (like a dream board), so that's been super fun. I also want work on tie-dying some things! 

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