Peter Walker with Erica Pereira in "Romeo + Juliet." Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of NYCB.

New York City Ballet Corps Member Peter Walker Is Also a Rising Choreographer

At age 25, New York City Ballet corps member Peter Walker is attracting admirers by simultaneously succeeding at two demanding careers: dancer and choreographer. Last winter, he made his debut alongside soloist Erica Pereira in the title role of Peter Martins' Romeo + Juliet. Just a few weeks earlier, he had presented his second world premiere for the company, dance odyssey.

"It's a goal of mine to be operating at a high level as both a choreographer and as a dancer," Walker says of dividing his time equally. "Peter has earned his success by doing everything right at every step," praises NYCB principal Daniel Ulbricht.

Lauren King and Company in Peter Walker's "dance odyssey." Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of NYCB.


By now, Walker has danced a variety of featured roles at NYCB, from Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Agon
to Mauro Bigonzetti's Oltremare (which he was thrown into at the last minute with principal Tiler Peck). He was introduced to dance by learning tap in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. At the urging of his ballet teacher (and former NYCB principal) Melinda Roy, he started concentrating on ballet. By 2007, Walker was accepted at the School of American Ballet year-round, and was invited to NYCB's affiliated New York Choreographic Institute in 2011 and 2012. He entered NYCB in 2012, as a tall, gangly adolescent.

"I hired a personal trainer to get me in my best shape," Walker says, noting that cross-training and meal plans still remain a part of his routine. It's paid off: A combination of artistry and sheer physical strength allowed him to impart a liquid-like flow to a variety of difficult lifts in Romeo + Juliet. In the balcony scene, he went down on one knee—not the most secure of poses to precede a lift—reached out and pulled Pereira toward him, slowly turning her in midair until he could drape her across his other knee. All done in sync with Prokofiev's ardent score.

New York City Ballet in Peter Walker's "ten in seven." Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of NYCB.

As a choreographer, Walker has the ability to concentrate on more than steps. His first work for NYCB, ten in seven, premiered at the company's fall 2016 gala with a guitar-centric score. In an odd yet appealing way, the music matches the look of the dancers and the spirit of the work.

Following the composition world closely, Walker chooses his music first, completely immersing himself in it before developing any choreography. "I form the broad arc of the piece, and I have an idea of the feeling behind each movement of music, but I don't usually come up with the steps before I'm in the studio," he says.

Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro in Peter Walker's "dance odyssey." Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of NYCB.

"He's very musical, which helps with partnering and really shows in his choreography," says Tiler Peck, who was featured in Walker's latest piece, dance odyssey. Walker notes that "the challenge is to figure out how to show the physicality of the music—to find its ideal physical pairing."

This summer, Walker was invited to Munich, Germany, for the Bayerische Staatsoper Young Choreographers 2018 program to premiere a work for five dancers. "But currently, my number one priority is dancing," he says before sharing his hopes
to continue choreographing for stage and video projects. Walker has a cheery response to questions about what his future may hold: "We'll see," he says.

Latest Posts


Maria Kochetkova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Kochetkova

Maria Kochetkova on How COVID-19 Affected Her Freelance Career, and Her New Home at Finnish National Ballet

When international star Maria Kochetkova embarked on a freelance career three years ago, she never envisioned how a global pandemic would affect it. In 2018, the Russian-born ballerina left the security of San Francisco Ballet, a company she called home for more than a decade, for the globe-trotting life of a guest star. Before the pandemic, Kochetkova managed her own performing schedule and was busier than ever, enjoying artistic freedom and expanding her creative horizons. This all changed in March 2020, when she saw her booming career—and her jet-setting lifestyle—change almost overnight.

After months of uncertainty, Kochetkova landed at Finnish National Ballet, where she is a principal dancer for the 2020–21 season. Pointe spoke with her about her time during the quarantine and what helped her to get through it, her new life in Helsinki, and what keeps her busy and motivated these days.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
DTH's Alexandra Hutchinson and Derek Brockington work out with trainer Lily Overmyer at Studio IX. Photo by Joel Prouty, Courtesy Hutchinson.

Working Out With DTH’s Alexandra Hutchinson

Despite major pandemic shutdowns in New York City, Alexandra Hutchinson has been HIIT-ing her stride. Between company class with Dance Theater of Harlem and projects like the viral video "Dancing Through Harlem"—which she co-directed with roommate and fellow DTH dancer Derek Brockington—Hutchinson has still found time to cross-train. She shares her motivation behind her killer high-intensity interval training at Studio IX on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

As Ballet Looks Toward Its Future, Let's Talk About Its Troubling Emotional Demands

As a ballet student, I distinctively remember being told that to survive ballet as a profession, one must be exceptionally thick-skinned and resilient. I always assumed it was because of the physically demanding nature of ballet: long rehearsal hours, challenging and stressful performances, and physical pain.

It wasn't until I joined a ballet company that I learned the true meaning behind those words: that the reason one needs thick skin is not because of the physical demands, but because of the unfair and unnecessary emotional demands.

Undoubtedly, emotional and physical strength go hand in hand to some extent. But the kind of emotional demand I am talking about here is different; it is not the strength one finds in oneself in moments of fatigue or unwillingness. It is the strength one must have when being bullied, humiliated, screamed at, manipulated or harassed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks