In a city loud and fast, it’s still possible to find something calm and majestic.
Miriam Miller looks like she is floating as she dances in one of the rooms where she practices at Lincoln Center.
She’s a soloist with the New York City Ballet.
“Sometimes I have to check myself—I have to remember I’m here and I’m doing something that I always dreamt of doing,” she said.
She moved away from her family in Iowa to the Upper West Side when she was 15-years-old to go to the School of American Ballet on the Upper West Side.
“It makes you grow up really fast,” she said.
In her more than 10 years in New York City, her career as a dancer has taken off.
She now works six days a week, which includes several hours of daily rehearsals and in season, performances, too.
“With our schedule it’s exhausting but what we do is so invigorating,” said Miller. “So you also have to stay also with what we do in such a zone.”
The zone is the Upper West Side. As she walked on Columbus Avenue, she waved at people she sees regularly. And she pointed out the places she has grown to love over the years, like The Muffins Cafe.
“Ever since I was in the school when I discovered it, it became a routine to go every week,” she said.
But there’s nothing routine about what Miller has accomplished. The New York City Ballet is one of the most prestigious companies in the world, which means Miller is one of the best ballet dancers, too.
“We show up day to day and it becomes our job and something you kind of get into a routine of,” she said. I have to remind myself to think every time that curtain goes up, there’s going to be new audience members seeing the ballet in Lincoln Center."
“It’s just such an incredible feeling,” she added.
Lincoln Center not only houses the New York City Ballet, but the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, too.
And the next generation of artists is right there as well.
The Julliard School, a renowned college for the arts, is on Lincoln Center Plaza, and one avenue west is LaGuardia High School, which is New York City’s most famous performing and visual arts public school.
“Sometimes when I’m walking to the train station, I see the big Lincoln Center building and I’m always amazed,” said Daniel Perez Ponce, a senior at LaGuardia.
He plays the marimba, an instrument that looks like a wooden xylophone and requires incredible hand eye coordination to play.
“I’m at a place where I can enjoy myself and express myself through music,” he said.
Ponce doesn’t have a marimba at home and it’s way too big to move the one at school. So LaGuardia is one of the only places he can play and practice, which he does multiple hours a day.
“There are a lot of people I’m around really are invested in the arts just like I am,” he said.
Next year, wherever he goes to college, he plans to keep playing. All thanks to the work that started on the Upper West Side.
Back one block over, as Miriam Miller prepares for the New York City Ballet’s 75th year, she walks by the Hudson River, where the calm reminds her of performing on stage.
“It’s so peaceful,” she said.
But at the same time, looking out at her neighborhood and the city, it’s a reminder of the heights she has reached.
“This is my home,” she said.