Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 22 March 2013 00:00
The word “quit” isn’t in Christina Markham’s vocabulary. The Westbury native has pursued her dream of becoming a dancer despite numerous rejections, and that resilience has paid off. Markham, who has been dancing for almost 20 years, was recently appointed to the prestigious Paul Taylor Dance Company, which performs at Lincoln Center every year.
Her interest in dance was first piqued after seeing a ballet on PBS when she was 12 years old. She was immediately captivated. Her parents soon enrolled her at ballet classes at Dancin’ Place in Carle Place. On her first day of class, she remembers ripping her tights.
“I was mortified, but kept at it,” Markham recounts.
Markham began her dance career focusing more on ballet, but she soon realized there were many other genres and she started learning jazz and modern dance. While in high school, she started seriously considering dance as a career.
Markham first heard about Paul Taylor and his Dance Company while she was a sophomore at Hofstra. The modern style of Paul Taylor and his wide range of choreography challenged Markham, but the 18-year -old dancer was not one to shy away from a challenge.
“I fell in love with it. It was just a completely different way of moving and exploring the space for me. In one movement combination, you can be a mixture of beautiful and ugly. It didn’t come easy, and I had to keep on practicing to achieve the desired steps,” Markham said.
With the recommendation of her college dance teacher, she tried out for the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York City. At 20 years old, it was her first professional audition. She didn’t make it so she tried out again, and again, and again. After six auditions, and spending every free moment taking dance classes, Markham was finally accepted into the Paul Taylor Second Company.
“I knew that I really wanted to be in this company. Every time I auditioned, there was a part of me that opened up. You have to learn so much choreography in such a short amount of time. It’s sink or swim,” Markham recalled.
The Second Company is a six-person dance group under the Paul Taylor Dance Company. The troupe travels around the world, from schools to hospitals to villages, to not only share the art of dancing but to teach and provide community outreach.
Markham was part of this group for five years, and says that she formed a close familial bond with the other dancers. They not only helped each other become better dancers, but also shared life together.
“I spent more time with my dancers than my actual family. It’s really great that I can say I have so many brothers and sisters that I never really had. Once you’re in it, you’re in and you’re family. It’s very rare to find that in a dance company nowadays,” she remarked.
Paul Taylor noticed Markham’s hard work and talent, and when a spot opened up in the main company, she was asked to join, without even having to go through the audition process. She will be on the Lincoln Center stage with the 16 other dancers of the Paul Taylor Company next year.
Markham encourages any young dancers hoping to make a career out of the art they love to never ever quit, a mantra that’s served her well over the course of her life.
“You just have to keep on keeping on. Keep on going for it [and] be consistent. Keep on working hard and somebody will notice your persistent hard work,” Markham advises.