Is there anything Tiler Peck can't do?
Promoted to principal at New York City Ballet by 20. Leads in everything from Balanchine's jazzy Who Cares? to classics like Sleeping Beauty to entirely new creations. A starring role in the musical Little Dancer. Check, check, check. (And that's just the beginning of the list.)
Now, her latest accomplishment is music video dancer. And we're not talking about a tiny back-up role. In Charlotte OC's new video for "Medicine Man," Peck is the sole performer of a lush contemporary ballet solo on pointe.
Yesterday we told you about New York City Ballet corps dancers Emily Kikta and Peter Walker, the duo behind the Saratoga Performing Arts Center's video campaign in advance of NYCB's summer residency. Each day this week, SPAC has released one of eight short films on its website and social media channels that were choreographed, co-directed and filmed by the two dancers. And they're giving us an exclusive look at the last one of the series.
Shot on location this spring in Saratoga Springs and Troy, New York, these films shows NYCB dancers frolicking in train stations, parks, race tracks and other iconic locations in the area. Fittingly, this last one was filmed onstage at SPAC, where the company opens its summer season July 5. Starring Walker and NYCB corps members Devin Alberda, Meaghan Dutton-O'Hara, Mimi Staker, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Sarah Villwock and Giovanni Villalobos, it shows off the theater's gorgeous natural surroundings.
Here at Pointe, we love dancers who use their talent to tap into other creative projects. For New York City Ballet corps dancers Emily Kikta and Peter Walker, their mutual love of choreography and film-making has yielded a major commission: creating eight short, site-specific films to promote NYCB's summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Shot on location in Saratoga Springs and nearby Troy, New York, the minute-long videos have been released one a day this week in advance of the season's opening on July 5. And we've got an exclusive sneak-peek at the last two films!
Iconic ballerina Wendy Whelan enjoyed a groundbreaking career, both in length and breadth. She danced with New York City Ballet for 30 years and has had more roles made for her than nearly any other ballerina. Despite her accomplishments, the last few years of her career at NYCB were riddled with worsening injuries and a creeping sense that others saw her as in decline. Whelan, like most dancers, knew her desire to perform would outlast what her body could do—at least within the confines of ballet.
Restless Creature, the new documentary covering her transition out of NYCB, hits select theaters in New York on May 24. It gives us a chance to look back on one of the most fraught times in Whelan's life, when she was giving her all onstage at the Koch Theater, yet battling pain and self-doubt offstage.
New York City Ballet has created a charming video trailer for their Spring HERE/NOW season, a festival of works created for the company over the past several decades. It's a great complement to the Royal Ballet videos (check them out at the bottom of the post!) detailing how ballet has evolved over the past 200 years or so. And, as I wrote in March, ballet trailers are getting more and more beautiful.
Last December—a few days before her 23rd birthday—Indiana Woodward did a quick barre backstage at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. In the purity of her port de bras and articulation of her cambered feet, she epitomized Russian-style elegance. Then she removed her warm-ups and suddenly looked more French than Russian, her pastel practice tutu and black choker evoking Degas' paintings. Rehearsal began, and as the music gathered speed, she transformed again. Sweeping headlong across the stage, buoyant and boundless, she was pure New York, pure Balanchine.
Born in Paris and trained in Russian technique before coming to the School of American Ballet, Woodward brings an unusually diverse perspective to her growing repertoire at New York City Ballet, which she joined in 2012. She's the rare dancer who can project worldly glamour and youthful exuberance simultaneously, who can toggle between the precision of the Russian style and the freedom of Balanchine's. One senses she'd make a regal Theme and Variations lead, or an eloquent Odette. But while she's had many opportunities at NYCB, she's such a natural soubrette—petite and bubbly—that we've yet to see the other sides of her artistry. Recently promoted to soloist, she seems about to fully flower.
Watching dancers you've admired and rooted for get promoted is a wonderful feeling. And New York City Ballet dropped some major news this weekend when the company announced not one promotion, but eight!
Russell Janzen, one of NYCB's most supremely elegant men, was promoted to principal.
There were also a ton of promotions from corps de ballet to soloist:
- Troy Schumacher, who is also the director and choreographer for BalletCollective, his own company.
How I'm feeling right now. Twelve years ago this month, I gave my first performance with @nycballet in Stars and Stripes. Over the past years, I've been fortunate, throughout the many ups and downs, to have had the opportunity to dance so many wonderful corps and soloist roles alongside the best dancers in the world. I've constantly tried to push myself and give it my all on stage whenever I could. Through all of this time, I eventually learned that validation comes from inside. There's no better reward than from hard work, and I always hoped that yesterday would have come from it. When it did, I still couldn't believe it.
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- Unity Phelan, who we mentioned in our 2015 Stars of the Corps feature, is a corps member no longer.
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- Indiana Woodward, who danced the lead in Lauren Lovette's ballet For Clara, which premiered at NYCB's 2016 fall gala.
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- Harrison Ball, who received the Janice Levin Dancer Award for 2013–2014, and Joseph Gordon, who received the same award for 2015–2016.
- Emilie Gerrity, who we followed for a day to find out what life is like in NYCB.
- Sara Adams, who also dances in Tom Gold Dance.