How a Dance Company Director Spends His Sundays

When he left Seattle for New York in June 2021 to work as the rehearsal director at Gibney Company, a modern dance troupe, Gilbert T Small II arrived in a city still struggling amid a pandemic that had been especially hard on small performing arts organizations. But Mr. Small, a former dancer with Ballet British Columbia, was moved by Gibney’s commitment to its dancers, which it calls “artistic associates,” he said. “Instead of saying, ‘We can’t’ or ‘We don’t have the resources,’ they kept their dancers on and made sure they felt safe.’”

Starting Dec. 13, Gibney, which promoted Mr. Small to company director in early 2022, will open its new season with the premiere, “Yag,” by the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, at New York Live Arts. Mr. Small, 35, lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, with his partner, Kyle Leland Bernbach, also 35 and a somatic practitioner (a sort of mind-body therapist) who is studying for his New York State massage license, their pit bull mix, Sylvester, and two cats, Tobias and Dale.

CALM, RECREATED When I wake up, my partner is usually leaving the house for errands and obligations. I take our dog for a long, slow walk at 8:30 or 9. We chose Ditmas Park because of the neighborhood feeling. When we look out our windows, we don’t have apartment buildings in front of us. We see trees and sky. When we first came here, we were staying with a friend in New Jersey. We noticed this sense of calm happened in our bodies when we left the city, and we thought, How do we recreate that? We landed here, in this comfortable, quiet neighborhood. I just have my coffee for the walk; food comes a bit later. For coffee, we only use a French press. Lately we’ve been drinking Brooklyn Lab.

“We chose Ditmas Park because of the neighborhood feeling.”Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

PIT STOP With Sylvester, I can be out 30 to 40 minutes. He has dogs in the neighborhood that he just adores. There’s no way you’re going to walk past certain dogs if he can smell them. If he wants to stop, we stop.

LENTILS When I get back, that’s when hunger usually starts to kick in. Something that has been in our routine lately is a little Mediterranean spot called Mimi’s Hummus. They have a lovely branzino bowl. It comes with lentils and a bit of rice with the branzino on top. I love lentils. I’m cooking lentils right now.

DECOMPRESSING I am conscious about what I eat, but I love good food and good wine. I cook all the time on Sundays, and I’ll usually make preparations for something larger to go into the slow cooker as well. The last thing I made was a roast with purple potatoes, tricolor carrots and beets with thyme and rosemary and sage. The time before that I went to the farmers’ market and got a rack of ribs. The person I got it from said, “Oh, I made a plum barbecue sauce to go with them.” So I got some plums from the stand next door, and some plum rice vinegar. I added habaneros, brown sugar and a bit of cumin and cooked it eight hours. That smelled incredible. Cooking is a passion and a way of decompressing.

Walking Sylvester.Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

A NATURAL FUNK While we’re sitting at Mimi’s we’re thinking, What do we need for the evening and into the week? Up the street there’s Kings County Wines. I’ll go in and pick up an organic natural orange wine. Orange wine is something I’m quite interested in. It’s the fermentation process — these wines are staying in contact with their skins longer than normal white wine grapes. They’re fermenting inside the skin before it’s peeled off, so they pull in more of the color. A lot of them have a funkier taste.

ARTISTIC STIRRINGS Depending on what the day calls for, we’ll usually go back out. Not long ago we went to a small theater, Triskelion Arts. They were having a day party structured around people of color and the arts. I gravitate toward anything that has artistic integrity. It could be dance or theater or music. As someone who leads folks in performances, I’m excited and interested in, What is this going to bring up for me?

BOSS DEBRIEF My evenings are really gathering and planning for the week ahead. But there’s something I forgot about my morning routine. At 10 o’clock on Sunday mornings, I’m usually back in the apartment speaking with Gina Gibney, who created the company, because that is my scheduled check-in time for the week ahead. It was chosen by me, because check-ins with her had been happening on Mondays, and by 10 o’clock on Monday morning I felt like, I’m already in the week. I wanted to be prepared for what’s necessary, what’s needed.

“Cooking is a passion and a way of decompressing.”Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

DOMESTIC BLISS Dinner could be just us, or it could be us hosting a few people. Then it’s just settling down, watching something on TV, enjoying our space. To tell you the truth, my weekends are for giving time to my partner, making sure we’re connecting and making sure my home is feeling loved and cared for, for making sure I experience living in Brooklyn.

NODDING OFF I’m probably falling asleep by like 10:45, but getting in bed at like 11:45. I love to fight sleep.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Gilbert T Small II on Instagram at @gil_ty.

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