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.”
-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