Name: Arielle Dance, PhD (Dr. Dance!)

Where do you live? West Orange

When did you move there? November 2021 (Previously Maplewood)

Where did you grow up? Westfield

How do you make a living? OR What is your everyday passion? This is a tough question somedays—like asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. For 10 years I’ve worked at the American Cancer Society—I currently work in Health Equity. 

Outside of my 9-5 work, I am a writer. I authored a children’s book, Dearest One (2022, Lantana Publishing) which is filled with words of wisdom from a grandmother to a little one. I am also a freelance writer about topics like grief, disabilities, and health. As of this year, I am the content writer at Diversability – sharing stories of people with disabilities.

Coffee, tea or … ? Neither. I don’t really like hot beverages (hot cocoa is pretty okay, though). I haven’t even had a drink (alcoholic) in almost ten years– but I love Orangina. It’s my go to on a stressful day or just when I need something refreshing.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? Ah, a day at the pool, cuddles on the couch with movies, sunset dog walks with the family, ordering in from Village Trattoria in Maplewood, and not having to do any housework.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Since I’ve only been in West Orange for a less than a year, I’m still learning the local spots. We are still close enough to our favorite spot in Maplewood, the Village Trattoria, where they know my wife by name. We live around the corner from McLoone’s Boathouse, where we got married, so that will always be special to me. But I must put in a plug for Argyle Marketplace, who have an extensive menu and deliver right to our door as we’re still settling in.

What’s on your nightstand? Four pairs of glasses (you must have options), a lot of jewelry, medication, and one of my many running to-do lists.

What are you listening to? I’m a true crime podcast lover! So aside from music, I’m between Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery (WNYC) and That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast (Exactly Right).

What are your current indulgences? Ice cream is always the answer– Kreme & Krumbs, anyone? My other favorite things include listening to podcasts or audiobooks during long walks with my dog, getting an arnica aroma therapy massage at On The Side Spa in Westfield, Pinterest-planning the redecoration of our new home, and service work with the North Jersey Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Partners NJ (formerly Partners for Women and Justice). 

What talent you would most like to have? I’m not sure if it’s a talent so much as a skill—I wish I were fluent in American Sign Language. The talent portion of that would be ASL interpreting—there’s a huge talent in being able to absorb information and communicate it back out quickly and accurately.

What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about your town? I had no idea how large West Orange was before I moved here. Who knew the GPS would keep suggesting hopping on 280 to get everywhere within town? But the amazing thing about the space is all the preserved land and reservations. So many hidden walking paths and family areas. Whether we’re on the highway or driving down a hill, I am reminded, we are on Lenape land, and I know there are so many stories there. 

What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? As someone who has been sick a lot and lives with invisible illnesses/disabilities, I think about this question often. Sometimes I feel like I’m rushing life a little bit; trying to squeeze in achievements before I die. If I live to be 45 or 105, people will be able to say, she was an amazing storyteller—not just of my own story but of the stories of people who are often silenced. I hope people will be able to say she persisted, she stretched beyond her bad days, she was joyful, and full of gratitude.