As a red-headed guy, you’re going to stand out on stage anyway; it might as well be for the right reasons. Nineteen-year-old Alexander Peters had that covered at the School of American Ballet’s annual workshop performances in June. Peters showed off his immaculate technique in Wheeldon’s Scènes de Ballet and then turned in a remarkable, crowd-pleasing performance in Balanchine’s Bourrée Fantasque. The Pennsylvania native has won the Princess Grace and Mae L. Wien awards and will start at Kansas City Ballet in August. We talked to him on his last day of classes at SAB.
What’s the one thing you’ll always remember about SAB?
AP: The opportunities. There were a huge number of things they let us do. I got to choreograph a little this year, and I got choreographed on. I got to do some of George Balanchine’s greatest ballets. I got to go to Denmark on an exchange program (with the Royal Danish Ballet). It was definitely a life-changing experience.
Could you talk a little about the workshop performances?
AP: This was my third workshop, but the first time that I was doing a principal part (Bourrée). It was exhilarating. We don’t perform on stage very often. It’s once a year, in the workshop, and to finally be out there performing, it’s the reason we take class every day. It’s, like, The Point.
Who are your favorite dancers?
AP: Sara Mearns and Abi Stafford (of New York City Ballet). What I like about Abi is just the technical precision and cleanliness of her dancing. And what I like about Sara is her reckless abandon: She just goes for it! When I’m dancing, I try to combine those two things.
What is your dream role?
AP: Definitely the principal in Square Dance. I love the variation, and I love the music. Baroque music, I don’t know, it speaks to me. I can dance to it so easily. I actually really enjoy playing baroque music on the piano. The choreography is brilliant: It’s very technical but it’s so much fun.
Could you describe your approach on stage?
AP: I really like to play off of the music. To dance is to describe what’s going on in the music, so the music is the most important part. When I’m partnering, it’s not about me, it’s about making her look the best that she can. When I’m dancing alone, I think of what the audience is seeing. There are obviously the basic technical things, but you just have to make it look like it’s the easiest thing in the world. No one wants to go to the ballet to watch somebody struggle.