In just five short years, New York City Ballet corps member Troy Schumacher has grown BalletCollective from a small side project into a company ready to take the stage at the Vail International Dance Festival. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with Schumacher as he prepped his troupe for their debut in the mountains on Aug. 2.
What will BalletCollective be performing at Vail?
A duet I choreographed called Dear and Blackbirds that premiered last October. It's danced by Harrison Coll and Ashley Laracey and is fairly unique because every element was created for these two dancers. Poet Cynthia Zarin wrote a poem that served as inspiration for the structure and tone for both the music and the choreography.
How would you describe the movement language?
When I choreographed the piece, Harrison Coll was just finishing his first year with NYCB as an apprentice, and Ashley is a soloist with NYCB. Her choreography is beautiful, grounded and languid and just very calm and confident. Harrison's is extremely energetic, and he has a wonderfully springy movement quality where everything's kind of fresh. It's about them slowly having their energy dynamics meet somewhere in the middle.
What's it like working with your wife Ashley Laracey on such an intimate project?
All of BalletCollective's works are very dancer specific, and I know Ashley so well. For this duet, there are even certain snippets that I choreographed on the two of us, visualizing Harrison and what he could do. That has extra meaning. And last fall Harrison broke his foot, so I ended up dancing the premiere with Ashley.
How does having your own company help you in your work at NYCB?
I've always been really fascinated with how companies work. I think having to start this from the ground up--I do the majority of BalletCollective's administrative work myself--has made me appreciate what everybody on NYCB's administrative side puts into our seasons. I also think that when you start choreographing, you approach dancing in a different way.
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Above: BalletCollective's Ashley Laracey and Harrison Coll. Photo by Whitney Browne, Courtesy Helene Davis Public Relations.