In just two years, Peter Stathas went from his first dance class to performing with the José Limón Dance Company on Center Stage in New York City. "I was just so in love with learning something like this that it probably didn't occur to me until I got on some bigger stages and realized I was in a different stratosphere now," he explains.
He admits to having a big learning curve initially. "Some of my best performances were in malls, funny places like that because I didn't have the feeling of pressure," he says.
Despite his early success, Stathas grew weary of life on the road. After six years of eating out of Styrofoam cups, sleeping in hotel beds and not being able to sustain any relationships, he founded Freedom Physical Therapy Services back home in Milwaukee. This allowed Stathas some financial and emotional stability, which helped him raise his family and now later return to dance.
Returning to dance came through a spontaneous Facebook post by a former dancing mentor, Doug Varone, about a choreography workshop, which he applied for and later attended.
"Half the times or maybe more, things find you rather than you find them," he says. "All of the sudden it was like, 'Wait a minute, I used to do this. I was pretty good at this.' It was just that thought."
Leaving and Coming Back features three original works by Peter Stathas. The second, Duets, combines 5 Studies of a Waitress and a Businesswoman (1985) with Assuage (2018), demonstrating the contrast of choreography from the past with the present. The performance runs Dec. 13-15 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.