Ballet Careers

Justin Peck and Patricia Delgado Are Expanding "Dark Side of the Gym" Music Video for the Stage

Justin Peck and Patricia Delgado in The National's "Dark Side of the Gym" video. Photo by Ezra Hurwitz, courtesy Peck.

Last November, New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck and former Miami City Ballet principal Patricia Delgado masterfully took classical ballet to an entirely new medium in a haunting music video for The National's song "Dark Side of the Gym."


In just five minutes, Peck (acting as both the video's choreographer and director) and Delgado—who are a couple in real life—told the story of a love that's not meant to last. (Ezra Hurwitz, a former MCB dancer, served as the film's producer and editor.) Using tight shots, the audience got to experience ballet through the smallest shift in facial expression, and it was magical—so magical that Peck has been nominated for a 2018 World Choreography Award. He and Delgado performed the piece on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last Monday, and tonight they're expanding on the video for a world premiere at New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival.


The original piece was set in a high school gym filled with hundreds of balloons, where the two dancers twisted effortlessly in and out of one another's embrace with the quick footwork and counterintuitive partnering that's customary of a Peck duet. Delgado's wounded eyes, yearning breaths and sheepish smile were matched only by her flawless technique and fluid movement, and the chemistry between the dancers was so tangible, it felt as though we had been invited into an intimate moment between them. If tonight's world premiere is anything like the breathtaking video, we're all in for quite the treat!

We caught up with Delgado to get the inside scoop on their plans for the performance, and what it was like to dance together for the first time.

What excites you most about this Fall for Dance performance?

City Center has been wanting to get Justin to do something for Fall for Dance for a while, but he is so busy that they suggested we do the pas de deux from the music video for the stage. We both liked the idea because we had such a great experience with the "Dark Side of The Gym" video.

When we made the music video, I don't think it was as important to Justin to create new steps. We pulled from stuff he had already done. Now that we are taking it to the stage, there is a lot of new material involved, which is impressive considering how busy Justin is. He loves to dance and it's really fun to see him get a chance to perform his own work because it's not often that he gets to do that. The music video was the first time we had ever danced together, and today will be our first live stage performance together. It's a really special piece for us and I'm super excited to perform it.

How have you expanded on the video for the stage?

We realized it needed to be longer. It wasn't enough of a piece on it's own, so we listened to the rest of the album and found the song, "Guilty Party." I didn't gravitate towards Justin's musical choices at first. I couldn't find the beats and melodies he was finding, and it was really challenging for me. Now that he's layered the choreography on top of the sound, I hear it so differently, and I'm obsessed with it. I'm really proud of what we've added to the piece.

What about the work stands out to you ?

Structurally, we've inverted the normal traditions of pas de deux. Instead of dancing together, then solos, then coda, we decided to dance separately to the same song. We never see each other during "Guilty Party." We just dance side by side, or one of us will run offstage at different times. Then we find our way together at the end for "Dark Side of the Gym."

It's more abstract, with much less of a narrative than the video. The beauty of The National's music is that it's mysterious. There is an enigma to figuring out their music, and it isn't meant to have a storyline, but certain lyrics really trigger an emotion in me that I can relate to from past experiences. It's not the story of Justin and I at all, but I can go into a really beautiful emotional state where I explore what things were like before he was in my life.


Peck and Delgado in a scene from "Dark Side of the Gym." Photo by Ezra Hurwitz, courtesy Peck.

How did you two meet?

We met when he was commissioned to do a ballet for Miami City Ballet. I was injured at the time and was really bummed I couldn't dance because I would have loved the opportunity to work with him. But in the end it ended up being the best injury I've ever had because I was free to show him around Miami while he was there. We got to know each other in a non-professional setting, which was the best gift. Had we been working together those two weeks I would have gotten to know him in a different way because I would have been focused on dancing. I truly believe everything happens for a reason.

What was it like working together for the first time?

To be super honest, I remember rehearsing for the video and thinking, "Wow, I'm getting into this dramatically more than he is. He isn't looking at me at all. Maybe, he's just focused on the steps or something?" I didn't know what his process was, and I was nervous. I wanted him to like the piece and enjoy dancing with me. On the day of the shoot we were on set from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, nonstop. We had to keep doing sections over and over again, and there was a lot of stopping and starting that we weren't used to. In spite of that, it was amazing how much I was able to feel while dancing with him that day. I didn't get that experience in rehearsal, but I learned that the magic happens when you're performing.

You've performed this piece in a concept video, on television and now onstage. What's it like to see it play out in so many mediums?

It's so liberating, and it was the right order to do it in. It was very experimental and explorative for the music video. Then we had a wild ride Monday night on "The Tonight Show" —it was such an incredible opportunity but we had no control over anything. It was a slick, buffed floor on a super-small stage with cameras moving and zooming in and out. The circumstances have been exciting but challenging up until now. Performing this onstage will be like coming home.
The Conversation
Everything Nutcracker
Samuel Zaldivar as Boston Ballet's lovable party scene bear. Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

For dancers, The Nutcracker isn't all winter wonderlands and charming sweets. To bring this ballet to life, we have to spar with swords (often while wearing a clunky head), pirouette in animal suits, and perform day after day with a host of other potentially hazardous costumes and props. Despite the dangers, Nutcracker's eccentric roles can be the most fun to perform. As five dancers describe, Nutcracker's whimsical, albeit taxing, accoutrements have their own kind of magic.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Lauren Archer with children at the "Signing Santa" event at the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, VA. Photo Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

Richmond Ballet dancer Lauren Archer never thought she'd be able to blend ballet with her knowledge of American Sign Language. But at a recent "Signing Santa" event at the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Archer—dressed as the Snow Queen from Nutcracker—got to make an extra-special connection with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. "Most of the parents and children were shocked to see that I was able to sign with them and that I wasn't just there for the pictures," Archer says. "I think the children loved meeting a real-life ballerina who was also able to communicate with them in their own language."

Archer began learning ASL 12 years ago, when her family adopted her younger brother, who is deaf. "He was almost 5 years old with absolutely no language or way to communicate," she says. "We continued to learn the language and teach him more and more each day—and now he's the one teaching us!"

Richmond Ballet's Lauren Archer Used American Sign Language to Spread "Nutcracker" Cheer youtu.be

Keep reading... Show less
News
Ballet Fantastique's Tracy Fuller and Gustavo Ramirez in Babes in Toyland. Photo by Bob Williams and Stephanie Urso, Courtesy BF.

Eugene, Oregon–based Ballet Fantastique debuts a forgotten holiday classic December 14–16. Babes in Toyland, co-choreographed and produced by mother-daughter duo and company directors Hannah and Donna Bontrager, pulls from source material ranging from Victor Herbert's original 1903 operetta to Disney's 1961 film. "We watched all the movies and read as many different versions of the story as we could find," says Hannah. The pair distilled the elements they liked best to create their own amalgamated plot. "The story is filled with joviality and lovable, familiar storybook characters," adds Donna. The cast also pays homage to the world's best-known holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. "We've added a character called Mother Gingerbread, and some gingerbread kids," says Hannah.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo by Lucas Chilczuk, courtesy of Brooklyn Ballet.

With so many productions of the Nutcracker taking place this month, it's no surprise that companies are looking to put their own spin on the holiday classic. At Brooklyn Ballet, that switch-up comes courtesy of fiber optic tutus that literally light up the stage during the "Waltz of the Flowers" scene (and a production that fuses ballet with hip-hop and world dance genres). Partnering up with Brooklyn-based tech company Interwoven, BB's hi-tech tutus can be seen in action in the (soundless) clip below.

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet in Nutcracker. Photo by C. McCullers, Courtesy AB.

Battling sore muscles during a lengthy Nutcracker run? Add these three items to your grocery list for easier recovery between shows.

Eggs

Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash

These protein superstars contain all the essential amino acids, making them helpful for building and repairing muscle.

News
Julia Roberts in "The Commuter," choreographed and directed by Justin Peck. Screenshot via The New York Times.

We already knew that Justin Peck is a crossover superstar. His accolades from this past year alone include a Tony Award for best choreography for Carousel, a performance on The Tonight Show with The National, and plans to choreograph Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake. Today, he proves himself all over again with a series of short films for The New York Times Magazine titled "Let's Dance," featuring some of 2018's most lauded movie stars. You can see these videos here, including an augmented-reality experience available to those with newer iPhones or iPads.

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
San Francisco Ballet principal Joseph Walsh at age 3 as the tiny green elf in his local Nutcracker. Courtesy Walsh.

Oh, Nutcracker... It's the ballet experience that unites us all, from young student to seasoned pro. Whether you made your entrance in a mouse costume or under Mother Ginger's skirt, do you remember the choreography and costume of your very first role?

Today, six professionals share their favorite childhood Nutcracker photos and memories.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
Haley Schwan. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Haley Schwan's artistic journey toward becoming a Boston Ballet company artist has been anything but ordinary. From the Vaganova Ballet Academy and Staatsballett Berlin to immersive theater in New York City and choreographing for the MTV Video Music Awards, Schwan has had some unusual detours. But the 26-year-old with a warm demeanor and quick smile seems to be enjoying the ride.

As a child, Schwan studied gymnastics, jazz, tap and contemporary dance in her native Michigan, before turning her focus to ballet. After a summer intensive at the Kirov Academy of Ballet at age 12, Schwan began studying there full-time until age 16, when she was invited to the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
Christine Shevchenko and Devon Teuscher, photographed for Pointe by Jayme Thornton

This is Pointe's December/January 2018 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Christine Shevchenko and Devon Teuscher have spent practically half their lives with each other. Both dancers joined American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in 2006. The following year, they graduated into the main troupe as apprentices, again together. They've sat next to each other in every dressing room they've ever occupied, and shared hotel rooms on the road. And in September 2017, at the age of 28, they became the company's two youngest female principal dancers—on the same day. If they weren't such good friends, they would probably be sick of each other.

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Isabelle Lapierre in a still from Finding Clara. Courtesy Justice Studios.

Last winter, we told you all about "Finding Clara," a YouTube series produced by tween clothing brand Justice. It followed four BalletMet Academy students cast in BalletMet's The Nutcracker. This year, it gets even better: The heart-melting show has been turned into a full-length documentary. Finding Clara was released today for rental and purchase on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.

Finding Clara Trailer youtu.be

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Courtesy Justice Studios

Finding Clara is a full-length documentary produced by Justice Studios that follows four young dancers from the BalletMet Academy as they prepare for The Nutcracker's leading role. Read all about it here. We're giving away five copies of the DVD including some extra gifts from tween clothing retailer Justice. Enter now to win!

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Elisabeth Beyer and Daniel Sarabia rehearse "Grand Pas Classique" in New York City before heading to Havana. Photo by Kevin Hesse, courtesy Ellison Ballet.

Elisabeth Beyer may only be 16, but she is already cultivating an international following. A Professional Training Program student at Ellison Ballet in New York City, this year she won first place in the senior women's finals at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York and the junior gold medal at the USA International Ballet Competition. In late October, she had the opportunity to perform Grand Pas Classique at the 26th Havana International Ballet Festival in a gala alongside stars from The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, La Scala and, of course, Cuban National Ballet. Her partner was Cuban-born international guest artist Daniel Sarabia, and the two only had a short time to prepare. We caught up with her to talk about what the whirlwind experience was like.

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet dancers in rehearsal with Yuri Possokhov. Photo by Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.

When Gennadi Nedvigin took over as artistic director of Atlanta Ballet in 2016, one of his first goals was to produce a new Nutcracker; it's been over 20 years since the company's last revamp by former director John McFall. Nedvigin immediately turned to choreographer Yuri Possokhov. "You need to be a really mature choreographer to visualize the whole story," says Nedvigin. Now, two years later, Atlanta Ballet's new Nutcracker will come to life December 8–24.

Yuri Possokhov's "The Nutcracker" www.youtube.com

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
Sixteen-year-old Sofia Castán Vargas on the steps of the Cuban National Ballet School. Photo by Leysis Quesada, courtesy Vargas.

If you've had an opportunity to see the Cuban National Ballet Company perform, or taken class with a Cuban-trained teacher, or observed a Cuban-trained dancer in classical, contemporary or character roles, you've probably wondered what it might be like to study or dance professionally in the island nation. The U.S. trade and travel embargo can seem like an obstacle, but under its provisions, travel to Cuba is permissible for pursuing an education or professional interests. Shortly after the 26th Havana International Ballet Festival, I spoke with two dancers—a student and a professional—whose experience studying and dancing in Cuba sheds some light on what it's like.

Keep reading... Show less
Joel Prouty (far right) trains professional dancers such as James Whiteside, Katherine Williams, Lloyd Knight and Lauren Post. Photo courtesy Prouty

A good personal trainer can coach you through a challenging, safe workout. A great one understands the unique demands dance places on your body and helps you correct specific weaknesses to make you an even stronger performer. Enter Joel Prouty.

Before his passion for fitness took over, he was a member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Houston Ballet and Boston Ballet, toured with Twyla Tharp and performed in Broadway's Come Fly Away. When he retired from the stage in 2010, he dove into exercise physiology courses at New York University, captivated by the idea of dancers as athletes. "My main focus and obsession was how to train like an athlete—strong, powerful, quick and resilient—while still maintaining the long, lean aesthetic required to be a dancer, and perhaps more specifically a classical ballet dancer."

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
"With the recent passing of Mr. Mitchell, I feel an even greater responsibility to share and grow the vision he began," says longtime company member Lindsey Croop. "Art is both transformative and transcendent, and because of DTH, there is a place for everyone." Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.ne."

"Keep the rhythm going," calls Robert Garland, Dance Theatre of Harlem's resident choreographer, from the front of the studio. Five company women pulse through a series of syncopated pony steps, upright arabesque sissonnes and funky, Motown-inspired dance moves. It's an open rehearsal in early September, and the company is giving curious audience members a sneak peek at Garland's upcoming world premiere—one of several new works this season as DTH celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Founded in 1969 by former New York City Ballet principal Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, DTH was groundbreaking in its makeup of mostly African-American dancers, and its insistence that they could excel in ballet. "We were a bunch of dancers who had been told no, we couldn't do this, and Mr. Mitchell was giving us a chance to show that we could," says artistic director Virginia Johnson, a founding company member and former principal. "He was a very demanding taskmaster—he knew there was something very important to prove and that it was on us to prove it."

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.

As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.

NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Screenshot of Bolshoi Ballet's Olga Smirnova as The Queen of the Dryads. Courtesy of Fathom Events.

The Bolshoi is back in U.S. movie theaters on December 2, and judging from this clip, you don't want to miss it. As part of its 5th annual Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Series with Fathom Events, Pathé Live and BY Experience, the world-famous company's performance of Don Quixote will be streamed in theaters across the U.S.

Staged by Alexei Fadeyechev, Sunday's performance of Don Quixote will star principal dancers Ekaterina Krysanova as Kitri and Semyon Chudin as Basilio. You can visit Fathom Events here to find your nearest theater. But in the meantime, watch this exclusive clip of principal dancer Olga Smirnova as The Queen of the Dryads before you see her on the big screen.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Diana Vishneva explores Aurora's 100-year sleep. Photo by Inna Nebeluk, Courtesy Sleeping Beauty Dreams.

This winter, the renowned Russian dancer Diana Vishneva will appear in her most high-profile project since she retired from American Ballet Theatre in 2017. The 42-year-old prima ballerina, who gave birth to her first child, Rudolf Victor, last May, is set to star in the ambitious, technologically innovative multimedia production Sleeping Beauty Dreams, choreographed by Edward Clug. The production will also star Marcelo Gomes as Prince Peter. Inspired by the provocative question "What did Princess Aurora dream during her 100-year sleep?", Sleeping Beauty Dreams premieres December 7–8 at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and continues to New York City's Beacon Theatre December 14–15, before moving on to what promotors say will be a two-part international tour.

Sleeping Beauty Dreams New Trailer youtu.be

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos
Sasha De Sola and Hansuke Yamamoto in George Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop touches base with San Francisco Ballet principal Sasha De Sola on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from darning to stirrup tights to customizations. Plus, we think De Sola might win the award for how quickly she kills her pointe shoes. (Hint: It's under an hour).

SFB Principal Sasha De Sola's Pointe Shoe Hacks www.youtube.com

Trending
Screenshot via YouTube

As all bunheads know, there's so much more to dancing on pointe than sewing and bourées. In this new video, The Australian Ballet lays it all out for us, from A-Z. Or rather from "Arch" to "Zzzzzz's." Using a super fast-paced style, this four-and-a-half minute long video skips back and forth between ultra-sleek minimalism and sepia-toned nostalgia. Both educational and insider-y (see "cashews" at 0:54), this video includes some gorgeous shots (Apollo-inspired arabesques at 2:00) interspersed with quirky humor (note adorable pointe shoe bed at 3:53).

So here you go, "A to Z En Pointe." Did they miss any?

A TO Z EN POINTE www.youtube.com

Site Network
Harkness Promise Awardees Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat Asherie. Photos by Kate Shot Me and Matthew Murphy

The Dance Magazine Awards are almost here. As we look forward to the celebration on Monday night, we're sharing an excerpt from the program—a letter written by our CEO Frederic Seegal:

The 61st year of the Dance Magazine Awards represents a major step forward. It extends the reach of the awards and now marks the second year of our collaboration with the Harkness Foundation for Dance, thus uniting two iconic organizations.

Firstly, this will be the inaugural presentation of the Harkness Promise Awards, which recognizes new talent at the upswing of their careers. Nurturing emerging artists, especially choreographers, is critical to ensuring dance's role in today's cultural landscape.

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Moscow Ballet's "Russian Variation." Courtesy Moscow Ballet.

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is not your average Nut. In 1994, the production debuted in six cities across the U.S. This winter, three simultaneously traveling companies of Russian dancers will bring the ballet to 137 cities, incorporating up to 120 local children in each location. For Mary Talmi, co-founder and producer of Talmi Entertainment, which produces the show, this is no small feat. "The role of arts education in this country is needed more than ever, and the more expansive our tour is, the more I realize that the benefits to the children are way beyond dance," she says.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Viral Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!