Seeing Stars

In the last few years, Daniel Ulbricht has been pretty busy. In addition to his work as principal dancer at New York City Ballet, his pickup company, Stars of American Ballet, has toured internationally since 2013. This summer, the group will make its debut at the historic Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in a program called Ballet 2014. Ten dancers will perform both classic ballets (like Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free) and more contemporary work, by choreographers Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied. Ulbricht has also commissioned a new pas de deux from rising choreographic star Emery LeCrone. The duet features NYCB corps members Russell Janzen and Emily Kikta. DS spoke with Kikta to get the inside scoop.

Dance Spirit: How would you describe the pas de deux?
Emily Kikta: It’s very romantic. The music is a Rachmaninoff cello sonata. It’s on pointe, but not too classical. Emery’s movement is so natural and expressive.

DS: It must be exhausting to have extra rehearsals on top of your full schedule with NYCB. Do you have any free time?
EK: Luckily, Emery works very quickly, and we knocked out a lot of the piece in one rehearsal. Since then, Russell and I have been finding time to rehearse ourselves—sometimes in the morning before class, or at night when we aren’t performing. So I do have a tiny bit of free time.

Emily Kikta in "Rubies" from George Balanchine's Jewels (photo by Paul Kolnik)

Emily Kikta in “Rubies” from George Balanchine’s Jewels
(photo by Paul Kolnik)

DS: What would you say is the best part about performing in Ballet 2014?
EK: Since I’m in the corps at NYCB, I’m usually only featured in solo roles. I haven’t really performed a true pas de deux yet. Plus, Daniel’s team of dancers is so amazing. To be in a group with them is such an honor—I feel like I’m not worthy!

DS: What’s most exciting about Ballet 2014?
EK: The program will show how versatile ballet dancers can be. One small group of people is doing both classical and contemporary work—work that’s hard, romantic and energetic.
Jacob’s Pillow is also such a cool venue. There’ll be so many other artists and companies there—it’s a whole culture. It’s actually going to be my first time performing there. I can’t wait.

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