Leif Steinert: Dancer

Alumni PhotoLeif Steinert may be the only Columbia SEAS alum who has danced on stage in performances on Broadway, at the Met and at the New York State Theater. “My feet have trod the boards,” he writes. Leif’s career path to engineering also may be one of the School’s most varied—from Navy pilot to architect to modern dancer, and now, software engineer.

He writes, “At Columbia, I was in NROTC, the first class to go undercover. Up until 1966-67, we wore uniforms on Friday and drilled in Morningside Park. No uniforms and no marching my last year. I went into the Navy, became a Naval Aviator, flew an electronic surveillance aircraft, and received a medal for spying. I moved to Boulder, CO, in 1974, and then, in 1976, I ran the NYC Marathon—391st with a time of 3:05:04 (7 minute miles– I had to train 80 miles a week to get that time.)

“I graduated from Colorado in 1977 with a Master of Architecture degree. There I became interested in modern dance. In the fall of 1978, I returned to New York and received a scholarship to study ballet at the Joffrey Ballet School in the Village. In March 1979, they put me on Broadway with Nureyev at the Mark Hellinger Theater. One month sold-out. It was the same theater where My Fair Lady played. Mick Jagger was in the audience opening night. In the summer of 1979, I danced again with Joffrey and Nureyev for two weeks at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, then was in Petrouchka, Firebird and Swan Lake at the Met with American Ballet Theater. I also was in Taming of the Shrew with the Stuttgart Ballet at the Met, a part I won at an open “cattle call” audition where they picked three men and three women out of 300 dancers.

“Then I had a family and have three children: Leif, 20, lives in New York City and is studying acting; Nicoline, 18, is attending Bentley College and studying accounting; and Wilhelm is a junior in high school. I have lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts since 1983. I didn’t really do any engineering until about 1992 and am now a software consultant for Abbott Labs. “I have been making dance films, Albany Berkshire Ballet Our Town, and am finishing up a film about the extraordinary things that have happened to me in my life.”

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