The one-bedroom co-op in Queens that Calvin Royal III shares with his partner, Jacek Mysinski, isn’t what you’d call expansive. Mr. Royal, who was recently promoted to principal at the American Ballet Theater (the third black dancer in ABT history to achieve this rank), could surely step from the front door to the balcony in the shade. under a throw.
But who is complaining? Not Mr. Royal, who still feels the same quiet pleasure in the apartment – every 500 square feet – that he felt when he bought it in 2014. “I was just thrilled to have a place that belonged to me, ”he said. “Even if it was not the largest space in the city, it was Mine. “
Mr. Royal moved from the Tampa Bay, Florida area to New York City at age 17, when offered a scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (JKO), the training program attached to ABT. He first lived in a Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. , apartment, where he shared a room with another ballet student. Then, after four years, he learned that a family friend who owned a brownstone in Crown Heights was happy to welcome him in and give him his own room.
“Through this process of living with her, she showed me how to manage and save my money,” Mr. Royal said. “I told her that I wanted to one day own my own property, and she was like a guardian angel and organized my life and finances. After four years she said, ‘Calvin, you’ve racked up enough savings. It’s time to buy.
Calvin Royal III, 31 years old
Occupation: Principal dancer with American Ballet Theater
Mind the step: “The ability to come straight out of your apartment… and during the pandemic, I’m lucky enough to take advantage of it. I do Pilates and a full bar and ballet class on the balcony. But I can’t cross the balcony like I can cross the studio.
A friend of JKO encouraged Mr. Royal to visit Woodside, Queens, pointing out the cultural diversity, neighborhood vibe and abundance of express trains that would make the journey to Lincoln Center, ABT’s home, easier.
It must be said that Mr. Royal did not jump. He approached the search for an apartment as he would for a new role: with prudence and method. Nor was he put off by other people’s missteps. “When I saw this apartment there was a horrible burgundy carpet everywhere and one wall was painted red,” he said.
Easily remedied – and there was the outdoor space, which now contains a trellis, Japanese maple, and several heavily loaded tomato plants. “I always tell people the apartment is like my treehouse because outside the window is this huge tree,” Mr. Royal said. “It’s kind of tucked away there.
While Mr. Royal lived in Crown Heights, he regularly reserved a portion of the honoraria for his side concerts at the Vail Dance Festival and Ballet Sun Valley festival. “I thought that if I ever made buying a seat and it required work, I wanted these savings to go towards what needed to be done.
This is how Mr. Royal was able to refinish the floors and install a new kitchen, complete with granite counters, recessed light fixtures, a large new sink and Shaker style cabinets.
Mr. Mysinski, accompanist at ABT and concert pianist, moved in with Mr. Royal in 2016, after a year of dating. He brought, among other things, an upright piano, stereo equipment and a Buddha statue which sits on the balcony and oversees Mr. Royal’s morning yoga. It was Mr. Mysinski who built the floating laminate office at the front in a corner of the living room, leading to the balcony.
“He did it before the pandemic,” Mr. Royal said. “But because of the pandemic, this is something that we have actually used, rather than this thing that we have sat down from time to time.”
If the apartment has a decor scheme, it could be called country casual cactus. Two cushions in a southwest print are arranged on Ikea’s gray sofa. When Mr. Royal and Mr. Mysinski visited Zion National Park in Utah a few summers ago, they stumbled upon a Native American art gallery and returned home with two small rectangular rugs. A trip to the Grand Canyon attracted a dream catcher. To mark a recent anniversary, the couple’s common gift was a photo of Antelope Canyon taken by Mr. Mysinski; Mr. Royal had it inflated and mounted on canvas.
“We had to postpone a vacation on the west coast in part because of the roaring fires currently taking place in the area we were supposed to visit,” said Mr Mysinski, of Polish descent. “So we do everything we can to create an environment that reminds us of the times we were able to be there, and this photo helps.”
But their collection of memories is all over the map. The library contains a sculpture of a hand from the Rodin Museum in Paris and a bottle of sand taken from a Florida beach on a trip to see Mr. Royal’s family. On the TV stand: Keys to the City of St. Petersburg, an honor bestowed a few years ago when Mr. Royal was performing in his hometown.
In-person company classes, rehearsals and performances are mostly on hold during the pandemic. One of the victims was a landmark production of “Romeo and Juliet,” starring Mr. Royal and his colleague Misty Copeland, the first black ABT dancers to be chosen for the title roles.
But, of course, the work continues. “The house has become my own personal office, my own personal studio,” Mr. Royal said. Every day he rolls out a square of studio floor, rolls out a newly acquired portable bar – why, he wonders, didn’t he buy one sooner? – and goes through the rituals of the dancer in the living room or on the balcony. Then he hands the space over to Mr. Mysinski, who has his own practice to do.
“There may be times when I do my bar and he’ll go out on the balcony or go out for a walk, and vice versa,” Mr. Royal said. “Over the past six months, we’ve balanced ourselves by giving ourselves the space we each need to not go crazy.”
Neither had previously had the opportunity to spend much time in the apartment. And they’ve never had so much time to spend as a couple. It’s a very nice interlude.
“We watch shows together and cook together,” said Mr. Royal, whose refrigerator is decorated with recipes for (mostly) vegetarian dishes. “At the end of the day, having more space would be great, so that when everything is safe again, we can have family visit. The ideal would be to have more space.
“But,” he added, “this is the very first place I bought, so it will always have that special place in my heart.”
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