SAMUEL COLEMAN

Office manager, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, New York

Interview by Arianne Cohen

PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANCESCO NAZARDO FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

How’d you get your job?

Twenty years ago, I auditioned for the Ailey School, which trains professionals for the industry. After I graduated, I kept my contacts.

Do you like office managing?

Like other artists, I work whatever jobs I can to support myself. A position opened up, and I’ve been here ever since. Fifteen years.

Do you still dance?

Yes, and teach. I’m really into authentic jazz and Lindy Hop [swing], and I take classes here — ballet, modern dance, Zumba. I’m a really big fan of Zumba. You can actually take those moves to the dance floor.

What’s your signature style?

Sweater vests — 99 percent of the time, year-round, I’m wearing one. A sweater vest can really add a lot to a man’s wardrobe.

What’s your office dress strategy?

Classic. I wear a suit every day, even when I’m not coming in.

Favorite accessories?

The ties are out of control. I tell myself that I do not need any more, and then I buy them. Oh, gosh, I own a couple hundred. They’re in drawers and hanging on hangers, on hooks.

How does taking off a whole suit for dance class work?

Practice. And folding it very nicely. Once you get over the hump, it’s easy.

You look more like a businessman than a dancer.

I’m inspired by the Harlem Renaissance. This country had an elegant way of dressing that seems to have been lost. And when I go out and do swing, I’m actually dancing in my regular clothes. People occasionally ask, “Aren’t you hot?” But this is nothing different than what our parents and grandparents did.

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