Q&A With Vegan Choreographer Cynthia King
Dancer and choreographer Cynthia King talks about her vegan dance studio and line of cruelty-free ballet shoes.
Vegans love to multitask (planning the ultimate veg weekend while baking perfect chocolate-chip cookies? No problem.), but a few of us are really, truly multitalented, as evidenced by dancer, choreographer, and instructor Cynthia King. The Brooklyn-based performer founded Cynthia King Dance Studio, where children and adults come to learn everything from the five positions of ballet to popping and locking. King is also the creator of the only readily available vegan ballet shoe line in the country, with celebrities such as Natalie Portman and Emily Deschanel on her client list. VegNews caught up with King for insight into her busy, creative world.
VegNews: How were you introduced to veganism and what made you commit to the lifestyle?
Cynthia King: I became aware that the meat on my plate was the flesh of animals in 1967—I was 10. It changed my life forever. At first I became vegetarian and then vegan once I learned that there was nothing humane about any use of animal products as part of my lifestyle. A lot of it was through reading literature and a lot of it was common sense.
VN: You recently choreographed “Dinner and Other Dances,” which benefitted Farm Sanctuary. Do you often choreograph dances that shed light on animal welfare?
CK: Like many choreographers, I am intrigued by the way animals move. I have made dances inspired by birds, snakes, giraffes, piglets, and butterflies. Lately, I have experimented with pieces that include children and adults with animal welfare themes. I choreographed a piece called “Exposé” in which dancers were crowded into a cage on stage. The piece is about the agony animals exploited for entertainment endure. It was amazing how the children expressed the theme in a raw, spontaneous way. During rehearsals I spoke with the children about the ways that animals are made to do the things they do in performances. It is important for me to be able to create and stage purely abstract pieces as well as pieces that include animal themes.
VN: Having an entirely vegan studio, what kind of reaction do you get from students and guests?
CK: Students and their families embrace the cruelty-free environment. They also learn about the health benefits of plant-based eating, since we offer vegan literature and always serve great vegan food at our events—even at parent orientation meetings. People come here for excellent dance training, and few are vegan, most are caring and open. A parent of a dancer recently told me that her daughter loved animals and asked me for suggestions on where to get cruelty-free makeup for her child. That warmed my heart!
VN: What was the process like when creating your vegan ballet slippers? Are you hoping to expand and offer more types of vegan dance shoes?
CK: The process was challenging because I had no experience at all in this kind of project. It was completely trial and error. The vegan shoes I had been using had stopped being made (they were also from overseas and very expensive). Students were always asking me what shoes I recommended and there was no shoe I could recommend in good conscience, since none were vegan. In 2002, I started searching for a textile that would work. I approached a dance shoemaker with the materials and asked him if he would try to make a shoe for me. He said yes, and now the current shoe beautifully balances form and function, transitioning perfectly from the studio to the stage. We’re hoping to offer the shoes in more mainstream outlets, and I’m always open to filling voids in the dance-shoe market.
VN: What’s been the most exciting part of your journey as a vegan dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor?
CK: Being able to be active in two areas I am passionate about: animal rights and dance; seeing my students grow into seasoned, confident dancers and into mature, compassionate young women and men; and introducing the only prêt-à-porter vegan ballet slippers are all very exciting.
VN: What can we expect from Cynthia King Dance Studio in the future?
CK: I’m planning the expansion of my dance company and school for a bigger space and more performances. We’re making a big effort to get the ballet slippers into more mainstream retail and media outlets. Our annual spring performances take place at Kumble Theater in Brooklyn April 29 to May 1. All of the students will be wearing all-vegan shoes and costumes.
The Best Vegan Diet Tips for Long-Distance Running
Matt Frazier, aka the No Meat Athlete, shares everything you need to know about how to run marathons on a plant-based diet.
Read More »
Sneak Preview: What's on the Menu at Chloe Coscarelli's NYC Restaurant?
The 27-year-old chef is the latest to make the leap from cookbook author to restaurant owner, with her first New York eatery opening this month.
Read More »
How One Rancher's Wife Used Crowdfunding to Finance the Animal Sanctuary of Her Dreams
Want to open your dream vegan business? New-animal sanctuary owner Renee King-Sonnen has been there, done that—and shares four tips to make it happen.
Read More »
10 Essentials for the Ultimate Fourth of July
Celebrate our stars and stripes in style with these must-haves for a killer Independence Day.
Read More »
How One Man Survived Mount Everest and the Nepalese Earthquake
As Kuntal Joisher attempted to become the first vegan to climb the world's highest peak, a 7.8 earthquake tore through Nepal. Here's his story.
Read More »
- 11 Things You Didnt Know About Pigs
- Top 10 Male Vegan Bloggers
- Vegan Fathers Day, Flowchart-Style
- 5 Reasons Im Glad to Be Vegan
- Subscriber Appreciation Month: VegNews' Office Tours!
- 9 Vegan Foods For Healthy, Beautiful Skin
- Vegan St. Patricks Day 101
- The #1 Way to Make Sure You Eat Your Greens First
- 6 Delicious Ways to Get Vitamin C
- The Unlikely Health Benefits of Coffee
- 31 Changes in 31 Days
- The Top 15 Vegan Instagram Photos of 2014
- The Top 15 Stories of 2014
- Millennium Named "Restaurant of the Year"
- The Top 15 News Stories of 2014
- The Top 15 Vegan Recipes of 2014
- Earth Balance Named "Company of the Year"
- The 2014 Veggie Awards
- How to Date a Meat-Eater
- Vegan Weddings 2014: Laura Robeson & Danielle Davis