"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.

The Collaborator: Inside Rehearsals for Troy Schumacher's Latest Work for New York City Ballet

This story originally appeared in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of 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.


Throughout rehearsal, the dancers focus in on each other. "Troy's ballets are about the community feel and what we create onstage, not so much towards the audience," says Laracey. Though Schumacher is influenced by Balanchine's athleticism, he also relates his approach to Jerome Robbins: "I value a lot of what Robbins did; he kind of started with having non-presentational works."

While this is only Schumacher's second work for NYCB, he's had plenty of practice. In 2010, he founded his own company, BalletCollective, which incorporates dancers, musicians, writers and artists into a collaborative creation process. The group rehearses during NYCB's layoffs, with Schumacher fitting in administrative duties in his spare time. "It's been a really great basis for me to understand everything that it takes to make ballet really possible, because I've had to do it all," he says.

Whether he's working with BalletCollective or NYCB, for Schumacher it all comes back to collaboration. (For instance, the score for Common Ground was composed by Ellis Ludwig-Leone of the indie band San Fermin.) "By collaborating with people—when it works—you're seeing your art in a new light and they're seeing theirs in a new light," says Schumacher. "I'm responsible for the choreography, but I'm also responsible for enhancing my collaborators' art and vice versa."

Photographed by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

Kyle Froman

"I try my best to empower the dancers," says Schumacher, shown here with Ashley Laracey and Amar Ramasar. "I feel like the more personality I can get in their movement, the better it reads from the audience."

Latest Posts


Bill Cooper, Courtesy The Royal Opera House

Pro Pointe Shoe Hacks from Royal Ballet Principal Yasmine Naghdi

Did you know that Royal Ballet principal Yasmine Naghdi's pointe shoes are actually made up of two different models, combined? Below, watch pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee interview Naghdi on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from her anti-slipping tricks to her darning technique.

Sergei Gavrilov, Courtesy Joy Womack

Catching Up With Joy Womack on Two Upcoming Films Based on Her Life, Plus How She's Managed in Quarantine

Many ballet films canonize the careers of dancers long retired from the stage. But that's not the case for Joy Womack, who at just 26 has not one, but two films in the works based on her life. Womack made a splash early on as the first American to graduate from the domestic program of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in over 60 years, and the first American woman to join the Bolshoi Ballet. After whirlwind careers as a principal with the Kremlin Ballet Theatre of Moscow and South Korea's Universal Ballet, Womack has just completed her first season as an artist with Boston Ballet.

Both upcoming films cover Womack's years in Russia. Joy Womack: The White Swan, a documentary made by Dina Burlis and Sergey Gavrilov, debuted at Cannes Marché in June. It is currently in post-production. The second project, Joika, is a feature film directed by James Napier Robertson starring Thomasin McKenzie as Womack. Production has been halted due to the pandemic, but filming is rescheduled to start in early 2021 in New Zealand.

We caught up with Womack in Redding, California, where she's just relocated with her boyfriend, to hear all about how she's managing during the coronavirus shutdown, and what it's been like to imagine her life played out on the big screen.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Pantry Spotlight: 3 Reasons Why Dancers Shouldn't Overlook Legumes

Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soybeans and chickpeas are all part of the legume family, categorized for their pods that contain seeds. Here are three reasons dancers shouldn't overlook this nutritious staple.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks