Principal Ballet Dancer Calvin Royal III on the Power of Travel

“Travel and dance are about connection,” says Calvin Royal III, a Principal Dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in New York–and a tastemaker for The Luxury Collection. “With the local culture. With a dance partner. With the audience. With myself.”

Royal’s words carry the intelligent spirit of an artist who uses a sense of place to inform his creativity.

Born in Georgia and raised and trained in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, Royal joined American Ballet Theatre in 2007. His repertoire with the company includes the title role in Apollo, a Cavalier in Cinderella and many more star turns such as in Alexei Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage. In September, 2020, he was promoted to the elite Principal position. For the Summer 2022 season, Royal will see his most iconic roles yet, performing as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake.

Along this path, Royal made it a point to weave wanderlust into his evolution as a dancer. His discipline has taken him to the renowned ballet companies and theaters of London, Copenhagen, Paris and St. Petersburg, as an observer, student, and dancer in turn.

“Over the past fifteen years, I would hop on a flight whenever I got a break,” he says. “When abroad, I’d absorb all of this new knowledge and inspiration and bring it back to New York and soar across the stage.”

In an intimate discussion, Royal speaks to travel and how it instills in him a sense of balance, a limitless bank of knowledge, and stillness in tandem with excitement.

The draw of dance, even over thousands of miles.

“I reached out to the Royal Ballet here in London in preparation for Romeo and Juliet. The original production of the show was created and staged in London, at the Royal Opera House. American Ballet Theatre does the same show–we have this common thread. So, I wanted to come here and work with one of the Royal Ballet’s top coaches, Edward Watson. I’m working with him one-on-one in the studio, to layer as much learning as I can into the role. Edward danced Romeo when he was a Principal with the Royal ballet, so there are lots of nuggets of wisdom to take in.”
When travel lights up the senses. 

“I think it’s a combination of things that inspire me when I’m on the road. As a dancer, my main drive is to explore these new places seeing what local companies are doing. If I get to train with local dancers, or work with them, it’s all the better. But I also like connecting with a place’s greater culture. I love the idea of diving into how people who live in these cities might operate, and bringing that home with me. And–the food!”

Keepsakes—both physical and intangible. 

In fact, I think, in all of my travels, I’ve pulled little bits and pieces from each and every place–and time. Even just this past week, my coach was telling me: “it’s about storytelling. It’s about what you are saying in the moments you’re not moving–when you’re just making eye contact with someone.” I love the idea that, when you want to confess something or when you want to show someone that you care for them, sometimes it’s not about a grand gesture. It’s in the stillness or the simplicity of the movement in the moment. “Movement in the moment” is a thought that I’ll bring home, and never forget. And when I am back in New York City, I’ll think to myself, ‘How do I want to take something that is ordinary, like “movement in the moment,” and make it extraordinary?’ I have this pool of references from around the world, from travel, that helps me to answer this question.”

Moments in London at The Wellesley
During my stay at The Wellesley, I’d usually come back after a full afternoon of rehearsals and use that time to focus on taking care of my body and calming my mind after the intensity of the day. I’d return to my room overlooking Hyde Park and run a bubble bath, or venture down to the beautiful art deco jazz lounge where live music was hosted on select evenings. I also just wandered around London, this time. I take my camera, I take my notebook, and explore for hours.”

An escape to the countryside at The Langley

“It’s always nice to have a change of scenery. At The Langley, I was able to exhale and embrace some downtime. I’m at my best when I’m as close to balanced as I can be. I also appreciate how transformative this trip is becoming, especially as it’s my first big voyage out of the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. It feels freeing to travel again, and to practice my art with the best of the best in another part of the world. Also: I enjoyed the immersions into English pastoral culture at The Langley. These elements included falconry, trekking through its nature in Wellington boots, enjoying quintessentially British meals, feeling restored by the spa, the cozy bathrobes and more.” 

The key takeaway of travel.

“When in a new destination, I love to find a place to be still, feel all the energy go by, dissipate, and then pick up again. It’s about slowing down. Sometimes that stillness is more impactful than the rush of it all.”


The Wellesley

Overlooking the Royal Hyde Park amidst the glamour of Knightsbridge, The Wellesley combines sophisticated luxury with captivating grandeur and uncompromising service.


The Park Tower, Knightsbridge

Situated in the heart of one of London’s most alluring locales, The Park Tower Knightsbridge is a stone’s throw away from graceful Hyde Park, fabulous Harrods, Harvey Nichols and the chic dining haunts of the city’s most stylish set.


The Langley

Surround yourself with incomparable style at The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire. Beautifully situated in the former manor home of the third Duke of Marlborough on 150 acres of formal gardens and parklands originally designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, The Langley offers an exclusive luxury retreat in the heart of Iver’s countryside.