We both joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in June 2009. As luck would have it, we were assigned as roommates during our first domestic tour, and that relationship worked. We were never in the room at the same time (Michael – the busy tourist getting out of the hotel early in the day, Samuel – the seasoned traveler taking enjoyment in the food, wine, and nightlife). Two years went by before we started to have feelings for one another. Given that the company is a close-knit group and we travel together for more than half the year, we wanted to keep our budding relationship private, and we did so for about a year. It has now been five wonderful hard-earned years of love, loss, and compromise.
This past January, with our family’s blessing and the support of about 40 of our closest friends, Samuel proposed with a surprise flash mob in our favorite local spot. It took almost a year to plan, and was no easy feat, as Michael is nosey and is not easily surprised. Our New York City Center season finished on December 31, 2016, and we were preparing to head out on a road trip to Key West on January 3. In the meantime, we had to clean and prep our apartment for a subletter who was moving in while we were gone.
We had planned to meet a friend for a bite at a bar near our apartment just before we hit the road. During the day, Michael received a panicked phone call from another friend (a complete farce), which got him out of the neighborhood, allowing Samuel to hold a dress rehearsal in the space. That evening, we were sitting at a table near the door, waiting for our friend to arrive, while another friend was positioned in the kitchen keeping tabs on us and stage managing the surprise. She made a phone call, people were shuttled from a nearby apartment, everyone got in position… CUE MUSIC! Suddenly, Samuel got up and – 5,6,7,8 – there was a flash mob. Samuel led 15 of our closest male friends and family in a dance, as they shuffled in from the cold and rain. Once the dancing portion of the engagement was over, in came another 20 of our closest friends and family to help celebrate.
Michael: “I was wearing cleaning clothes, including “mom jeans,” and smelled of bleach from cleaning the apartment, but none of that mattered. Everything happened so fast, and I was tearing up, so I missed some of the dancing. Luckily Samuel had accounted for that and had a videographer present at the engagement.”
Samuel: “This was by far the largest project I have ever undertaken. I actually gave myself panic attacks by the end, but I would do it all over again to see Michael’s tear-stained face!”
All in all, it was one of the best days in our relationship. We eagerly anticipate the future.