art haus

We take an Art Bath with former Menudo star César Abreu

This post is part of a series of Queerty conversations with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–or just sit on the couch ogling them instead.

Name: César Abreu, 44

Occupation: Producer/Director/Entrepreneur

City: New York. Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

What is your favorite gym for working out? Blink.

Do you have a favorite exercise playlist? 

80’s and 90’s tracks.

 

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What’s the best food to eat prior to a workout?

Protein shakes.

What’s the best outfit for working out?

I take comfort any day- Shorts and a tank top.

How do you balance staying in shape and having fun?

I think it’s important to enjoy yourself as much as possible and that also applies when it comes to working out. Yes, it can be challenging at times but that’s part of what makes it interesting. It’s never the same. Working out and having fun go hand in hand, it’s all on one’s outlook!

What’s a basic, if useful, workout tip you can offer?

Get it out of the way early, it prevents you from making excuses later in the day.

 

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You’ve been in showbiz your entire life. As someone that grew up in the spotlight, how did you find a routine to preserve your mental, physical and emotional preparedness?

I believe having a structure certainly helps in maintaining consistency. Randomness can be fun at times, but when you’re trying to challenge yourself, set new goals, and achieve results: implementing a bit of focus and discipline will offer substantial gains, almost always. I have always been a very active person and someone who finds physical activity really appealing. I think anything physical–running, jumping rope, or even skipping around (which I still do from time to time, believe it or not)–can have a profound impact, not only physically but more importantly on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

How did that preparedness help you prior to coming out? 

I came out when I was 14 years old, and times were very different back then. I was living in Puerto Rico. Being gay was certainly not accepted or encouraged. I have been in showbiz all my life, and by that time in Puerto Rico, I had already done plenty of tv, film, and theater work. On top of that, I became a member of the boyband Menudo and people would recognize me wherever I went, and there was certainly a lot of pressure, mainly because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

Related: Jarrod Lee on looking good naked and a queer training community

I grew up entertaining people. Ensuring people enjoyed themselves and had a good time was always my goal. Doing anything that would disrupt that flow and how people felt about me or the impact coming out would have had in my career was scary, but a price I was willing to pay to live a more fulfilling and integrated life. I’ve always tried to follow my instinct in staying true to who I am. Hiding in a closet was not an option for me. Coming out early allowed me to live my life openly and fully. That decision allowed me to be mentally prepared for anything in life. Living authentically and honestly definitely sets the tone for how you are wanting to pursue your dreams.

 

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It’s interesting to me that you’ve moved into dance rather than singing. What is it about dance that you find so satisfying?

I think dance allowed me to communicate differently. Using my body, rather than sound or my voice challenged me. I could never sit still and through dance, I learned how to be a more disciplined, determined, and versatile artist. Dancing also uses your entire body to communicate with an audience; it’s that almost primal physicalness that I find so fulfilling and incredibly satisfying. I’ve always found dance as a great conduit to process emotions, and also a way to share those with someone else. Dance has been a healing and powerful source of energy (both calming and energizing) in my life. I find that its capacity to touch another human being is boundless.

You’re in the process of launching your own artistic showcase, Art Bath. What excited you about the prospect of launching your own salon?

Starting a new project has always been fascinating to me. As a producer, you have the unique opportunity to really shape things the way you want from inception. It’s almost like having a blank canvas in front of you; you are allowed to create anything and use as many colors as you like. I have always dreamed of working with like-minded artists or people who are passionate about the arts, as the arts have been instrumental in my career and my overall development as a human being. When you’re starting a project, it is also important to have a strong team together. For Art Bath, I have two of the most amazing talented friends with whom I am producing the series: Mara Driscoll and Elizabeth Yilmaz-Dobrow. All three of us have danced together at The Metropolitan Opera for many seasons, worked on several projects together and we have deep admiration and respect for one another. I know having that bond, in addition to great communication is always key to being successful. I am very inspired by their partnership, trust, and ideas. That certainly comes in very handy when you are trying to mount a project that is highly creative.

What can people expect from a show there?

Art Bath is a salon series in a small, intimate setting with the goal to foster community connection, dialogue, and experimentation, which we know our city and our arts community currently need. The Blue Building is a former electrical supply factory that was converted into a performance and event space.  We took inspiration from a “bygone era” of art salons and parties (the Warhol Factory, vogue balls, Paris salons, Soho lofts, A’Lelia Walker’s Harlem Renaissance salons) to think about this moment and the issues of equity and access, to think outside of genres and embrace new mediums. Each evening’s program is completely different including our artist’s lineup. We will have excerpts/samples of each of the artists featured, and the experience is immersive in which the audience will navigate from room to room getting the opportunity to really enjoy each presentation intimately.

How does art help us stay prepared? What’s the value of it beyond entertainment?

After these past couple of years, it is important to create opportunities that allow us to connect to one another. Art can have a profound impact on all of our lives, especially during this moment with so much divisiveness and chaos in the world. We can all reach towards the art as the antidote, for soul-soothing a lot of us are craving desperately. We thought what’s better than taking a comforting bath after a hard day? That’s the idea behind Art Bath, to have our audiences immerse themselves and experience the profound, healing, and energizing force art can really have in all of our lives. Our city has been deeply impacted by so many traumatic events. That presents a wonderful opportunity to create a place where we can embrace one another even if we see things differently, a place where creativity, imagination, and inspiration are all embraced and presented in unconventional ways. A salon series just seemed perfect. It’s time to take a step back, reflect and connect.

 

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As a performer, staying in peak physical shape is obviously key to maintaining the stamina for performance, especially over time. Has your routine changed as you’ve gotten older? How do you foresee it changing?

Oh yes, my routine has definitely changed. Part of getting older is having the understanding and accepting that change is just part of life. I remember being able to dance starting with a ballet class at 8 A.M. and going from rehearsal to class with short breaks in between. I wouldn’t stop until 8 P.M. or even later. My body and mind can’t handle that type of routine anymore. That doesn’t mean I’m less active, it just means I work differently. I’ve also gone through injuries and some setbacks which have allowed me to be more understanding of my body and my limitations. Through it all, I have become a more compassionate and mindful human being. I’ve learned to accept my body and feel grateful to it for carrying me through difficult times. That includes the pandemic, which has had such an immense impact on all of us. I try to practice a lot of gratitude, mindfulness meditation, and exercises that promote internal healing. It’s important to keep your physical body in tune with your mind and spirit. I believe always leading with love as a north, is fundamental to living a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

What do you keep on your nightstand? My glasses.

Art Bath, held at The Blue Building at 222 E. 46th St. New York, NY, has a modified pay-what-you-can ticketing policy and prices begin at $25/person. 60 tickets are available for each performance. 

Bonus pics:

 

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A post shared by Cesar Abreu (@cesarny)

 

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