I Was a Dancer

Well, I wasn’t…but Jacques d’Amboise was and that is what he chose to call his autobiography (which by the way you should absolutely read for the footnotes alone).

One fine September day at Jane, we realized that if I indeed survived this French bug, we needed to find a place to live come September 18th. It was then I remembered a friend of one of our great, great friends had emailed me while we were in Paris to say she knew of a sublet situation for September. It was now September 8th,—but, who knew? Maybe the place was still available and I was feeling lucky—(well, no I wasn’t actually).

BUT, as luck would have it, it was available. It was a ways up in Harlem, but after we saw it, crunched some numbers and measured some commutes, we thought we could make it work for a month or so while we saw how our lives unfolded. And as a side note, the apartment belonged to and was being sublet to us by Jacques d’Amboise.

Photograph – John Dominis

Jacques is a 77 year old former New York City Ballet dancer. That’s him with his kids up above. In the 1940s, he went to SAB-the School of American Ballet-when Lincoln Kirstein (who Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is named for) and George Balanchine were just starting to cement NY City Ballet as the premiere ballet company in America (and arguably now, the world). Jacques was invited to join the company before Lincoln Center even existed. From there, he became one of the most prominent members.

Michael was also a dancer and although he and Jacques’ paths never crossed directly, there seemed to be just one degree of separation between them most of the time. Let us count the ways.

1. Michael also attended SAB.

2. His first wife (remember? Michael was married once before?) was a member of NYC Ballet and danced with Jacques.

3. Michael danced in Jacques’ son Christopher d’Amboise’s dance company.

4. Jacques and Jerome Robbins (West Side Story) were contemporaries and worked together often, while Michael danced in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway in Japan.

5. Several of Michael’s friends have performed with Jacques’ daughter, Charlotte d’Amboise, including John O’Hurley. In fact, when Michael and I went to see John perform in the musical Chicago in DC, Charlotte was playing Roxy Hart. We all had dinner together after the show for heaven’s sake.

6. Charlotte’s husband, Terrence Mann was the lead in the first musical Michael ever assistant directed. (Terrance was also the original Javert in Les Miserables, just as a little side note.)

And yet, none of the above brought us into the home of the smashing Jacques.

A friend of ours was brought into our lives by the lovely Uncle T, who was brought into our lives by a lovely former yoga client of mine. In the 1960s, this friend’s parents rented the ground floor apartment of Jacques d’Amboise’s brownstone on 70th street (just 3 blocks down from our old brownstone, mind you). Jacques and his family lived upstairs. So when I sent out a big email looking for a place to stay for September, our angelic friend forwarded my request on to her circle and the timing was just right. Jacques needed a sublet. We could move in from September 15th-October 15th. Hopefully by then we would know what was happening in our lives.

The photo of the building above is the actual apartment building we are staying in. It used to be a public school, but has been unused and empty for 100 years or something. So developers bought it from the city to make it into condos under one condition…it had to house a Not-For-Profit.

Enter the National Dance Institute. Jacques founded this Not For Profit ages ago to bring dance into the lives of under privileged kids. Now it has a new home in Harlem and it is amazing. Jacques also bought an apartment in the building, furnished it and is now sub-letting it to us. Why? I don’t know. But it’s fantastic. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, dishwasher, washer/dryer, big closets, big kitchen, 12 foot ceilings, courtyard, community room, big closets, absolutely no lead paint. It’s a lovely place to come home to. That’s the floor plan up above.

But I will say, when we first arrived we were really trying to enjoy it, but we still had job negotiations on the brain.  The specter of Victor Hugo still loomed.

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