Dancer Spotlight: Creative Spark

Troy Schumacher feels there’s no better education for a choreographer than New York City Ballet. The 27-year-old corps de ballet member has been watching and performing the company’s works since he came to New York City in 2002 as a student at the School of American Ballet.

After joining the company in 2005, he became fascinated with the way in which Balanchine and Stravinsky had worked together on Agon. “Both already knew what they were doing,” he says, “yet their collaboration forced them each to grow more artistically.” It made him wonder, “Why doesn’t that happen more?”

Schumacher wants to answer that question in his role as choreographer and artistic director of BalletCollective. Founded in 2010, BalletCollective, which taps many of his NYCB colleagues, reflects Schumacher’s commitment to presenting ballets made with the input of a multitude of artists across disciplines. This past August, BalletCollective premiered The Impulse Wants Company to a sold-out house at the Joyce Theater’s Ballet v6.0 festival. Schumacher, composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone and poet Cynthia Zarin worked together throughout the creative process. “A lot of people like to talk about collaboration with projects like these, but Troy gives more than just lip service to the term,” says Ludwig-Leone. “Rather than just settling on an idea and then letting each member do their own thing, he constantly brings us back together to update and critique each other as we move forward. The result is a thoroughly mixed blend of influences.”

Running a successful small company demands a fair amount of administrative work, which Schumacher must do in his limited free time. It also means finding rehearsal time outside the demanding NYCB schedule. Schumacher believes the extra work is worth it: “Choreographing helps me conceive of the whole when I am dancing, and that gives me a better understanding of the ballets I’m in. With 30-second rehearsals in the wings between entrances, I was able to jump in for Sean Suozzi in Concerto DSCH last winter even though I had understudied a completely different part. It was a very liberating experience.”

Fun Facts

-Troy’s first pair of dance shoes had taps on them.

-His current dream role? The male soloist in Agon.

-If he weren’t a dancer he would be a chef.

-Favorite food to cook? Rustic Tuscan fare.

-While cooking he listens to San Fermin, an indie rock band fronted by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, BalletCollective’s composer.

“When I’m dancing Troy’s work, I am lost in the moment. It’s given me the confidence to dance my NYCB roles with more command.”

—Ashley Laracey, soloist with NYCB  and BalletCollective member

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

"My Plate Is Full": Sofiane Sylve on Her New Leadership Roles at Ballet San Antonio and Dresden Semperoper

Sofiane Sylve had huge plans for 2020: Departing her post as a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, she embarked on a multifaceted, bicontinental career as ballet master and principal dancer at Dresden Semperoper Ballett, and artistic advisor and school director at Ballet San Antonio—and then COVID-19 hit, sidelining performances and administrative plans at both companies. But ballet dancers are nothing if not resilient. In her new leadership roles, Sylve is determined to help shepherd ballet through this challenging time—and transform it for the better. Pointe caught up with her by phone while she was in Dresden.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The Anatomy of Arabesque: Why Placement and Turnout Are Key to Achieving This Crucial Position

Audition for any school or company, and they'll likely ask for a photo in arabesque. The position not only reveals a great deal about a dancer's ability, but it is also a fundamental building block for more advanced movements, like penché or arabesque turn. Beyond technique, it can be the epitome of grace and elegance onstage, creating unforgettable images—just try to imagine Swan Lake or Balanchine's Serenade without an arabesque.

Yet many dancers are unsatisfied with their arabesque lines, and students frequently ask how to improve their extensions. (Social media posts of dancers with extreme flexibility don't help!) In an attempt to lift the back leg higher, dancers may sacrifice placement and unknowingly distort their position in the process. How can you improve the height of your back leg while maintaining proper placement and turnout? We talked to a few experts to better understand the science behind this step.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks