Ballet Careers
"I am constantly intrigued by individuals and what makes people unique," says Schumacher. "Even when they're dancing together, you see seven very different people doing something." Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

Troy Schumacher has been very busy.

The final days of September saw the New York City Ballet corps member rehearsing for a full slate of performances while simultaneously preparing the premiere of Common Ground, his second ballet for the company.

Schumacher's first work for NYCB, Clearing Dawn, was notable for its athleticism, high energy and refreshing youthfulness. Similarly, Common Ground is profoundly physical, with dancers exploding through the air in bursts of sissonnes and bounding over imaginary puddles with successive grands jetés. But in contrast, "the mood is a little darker, a little more mysterious," says NYCB soloist Ashley Laracey, who is also married to Schumacher.

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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.

 

Onstage at New York City Ballet, principal Ashley Bouder is known for her explosive jumps and stage presence. Offstage, she's developing directorial skills with The Ashley Bouder Project, a group of fellow NYCB dancers who will perform works by Adriana Pierce, Andrea Schermoly and Joshua Beamish this week. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we caught up with Bouder via email before her Project's shows at the Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival, Aug. 8-9.

What inspired you to create The Ashley Bouder Project?
I am from a small town, and ballet gave me a career and a life. If I can travel to other small towns and share my love of dance with new audiences, or reach people on their phones and tablets who don't have dance where they live, then I'm doing my part to share ballet. I think my generation is doing great work to further the potential of what ballet can be and the place the arts have in society.

How do you juggle the roles of dancing and directing for this project?
It can be challenging! In addition to working with the collaborators, I am running to costume fittings, coaching the dancers, creating the new works with the choreographers, and then sitting down to dinner with a supporter. All of this on top of an already demanding schedule with New York City Ballet. But I'm lucky to have a great co-producer, Phil Chan. That allows me the time to really work on the artistic quality for each piece.

Much of what you're presenting at the Joyce showcases the work of female choreographers. Why is this important to you?
There is historically a lack of women in positions of power in ballet--except onstage. If the ballet repertory is the creative soul of a dance company, whose stories are we telling? On a more basic level, it's great to collaborate with a female choreographer who knows the female body inside and out, what is possible on pointe, where my weight is, because they have actually lived it.

For even more interviews, tips, audition info and giveaways, sign up for our FREE e-newsletter.
Above: Bouder with Amar Ramasar in Joshua Beamish's Rouge et Noir. Photo by Rebekah Spurlock, Courtesy The Ashley Bouder Project.

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