Thomas Forster, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer and author, corresponded with Ballerina Book Club for “Friend Picks” about his favorite books, how he got into ballet as a profession and his upcoming book “My Daddy Can Fly!” Set to be released by Penguin Random House on Nov. 23, the children’s book is illustrated by Jami Gigot and written by Forster with Shari Siadat.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
What was your relationship to reading as a kid?
I remember as a kid struggling to actually finish a book I was reading at the time. But thankfully, I outgrew that, as reading is one of my most favorite things to do.
Does reading ever inform how you portray roles on stage?
To be honest, no. Self-help books have helped me in life and throughout my career. I find reading an amazing way to relax and de-stress from the day.
How did you get into ballet as a profession?
My mom made me do it. I really wanted to take karate but apparently I was too young, so my mom signed me up for ballet classes instead. My ballet teacher saw potential in me. I auditioned for a performing arts school, as it would lead to a better education. Thankfully, I was accepted, and the more I trained and grew up, the more I started to love ballet. By the time I was 16, I knew it was what I wanted to do as a profession.
What has been the best part of parenthood? The most unexpected?
I just feel so incredibly fortunate to be Benjamin’s father. The best part of parenthood is just watching Benjamin grow up.
How has being a father influenced your work as an artist?
If I’m being honest with myself, looking back at life before Ben, I was kind of lazy. The responsibility of being a father made me more focused in life. I work harder now than I ever had in the past. I have a little boy to provide for, so I have to do my best for him now.
Does Ben like to dance?
I think Ben enjoys dancing. I love to watch him move and groove; he’s incredibly coordinated.
What has been your favorite part of the process of publishing “My Daddy Can Fly”?
[My] favorite part of the process was when I saw Shari [Siadat]’s amazing story matched with Jami [Gigot]’s incredible illustrations. The book all come together, and I really enjoyed reading it to Ben.
What’s a passion outside of your public persona that people might be surprised to know about?
I am a certified personal trainer. I get a lot of pleasure from coaching people. I was lucky enough to be mentored by Fran Fontan and Roman Zhurbin at Body Space Fitness in Union Square. Training/learning at Body Space Fitness helped me in my own career with ABT. It feels nice to help others tap into their potential and be the best that they can be.
Favorite pasta recipe?
Spaghetti carbonara is my fave.
Favorite book store?
Barnes & Noble
What was the last thing you read?
What are you looking forward to reading?
What book have you read over and over again?
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
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Top Image: Thomas Forster and Isabella Boylston in "Jane Eyre." Photo: Gene Schiavone.