Dance News

Justin Peck's Gender-Neutral Ballet Casting Is Brilliant

Taylor Stanley (front) and Daniel Applebaum rehearsing Justin Peck's The Times Are Racing (via Instagram)

If you're a ballet person, your feeds are probably full of gorgeous previews of Justin Peck's new work for New York City Ballet, set to premiere tomorrow night. Excited as we are about that, though, we're almost more excited that Peck's The Times Are Racingwhich NYCB debuted in January—is returning to the stage this fall.

Why? Well, firstly, we can't get enough of its powerful, infectious energy (or its fabulous costumes by Opening Ceremony). But we also love, love, love the way Peck has been experimenting with gender-blind casting in the piece.

In the first performance of The Times Are Racing, Peck himself danced a thrilling tap-inspired duet with Robert Fairchild, giving us all kinds of West Side Story vibes. (You can see most of it in this trailer video.) Later that month, Peck cast a woman and a man, Ashly Isaacs and Taylor Stanley, in the same duet. The new pair revealed an entirely different—and equally mesmerizing—dynamic.

This season, Peck's mixing things up again. On October 12, the ballet's central pas de deux, first danced by girl-guy pair Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar, will be performed by two men, Taylor Stanley and Daniel Applebaum. Peck just posted a clip of the two navigating the intricate partnering, and it looks AMAZING.

"A major part of #TheTimesAreRacing has been an exploration of gender see how far we can push equality amongst the sexes through the lens of ballet," Peck says in the caption. "It's been very special to collaborate and monitor this new pulse of the witness how the dynamics and counterbalance of Daniel Applebaum (@dapplebaum) and Taylor Stanley (@t_stanley) can shift the impact and meaning of the choreography."

Slow. Clap. 👏

Show Comments ()
Cover Story
(From left) Mean Girls dancers Riza Takahashi, Ben Cook, Kamille Upshaw, Jonalyn Saxer, DeMarius R. Copes, and Stephanie Lynn Bissonnette (photos by Erin Baiano)

Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.

OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.

Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.

Keep reading... Show less
Via Metro UK/SWNS

You know what they say: "Age is just a number." But no one proves that quite like Joyce Harper. At 98 (!) years old she's still teaching ballet, and is currently breaking the internet with her adorableness.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Alicia Vikander in Tomb Raider (Warner Brothers)

Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:

You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.

Keep reading... Show less

It's time for a tutu test! So many iconic ballets, so many beautiful tutus. Can you figure out which ballet each of these costumes comes from?

Keep reading... Show less
Via @dreamcatchersda on Instagram

Everyone loves a good viral video, especially when there's dancing involved. And though many viral videos are contrived and created for the soul purpose of instafame, the story behind the latest video catching the eyes of millions—including Rihanna, super model Naomi Campbell, and Diddy—is even more unique because it features children who don't even know who those celebrities are.

A dance troupe in Nigeria has become the next internet sensation, thanks to their exuberant dancing and passion with which they perform. Their enthusiasm for dance is evident in every step and it's hard not to smile as you see these children (who range from ages 6 to 15) express pure joy in something as simple as dance. These nine kids are part of The Dream Catchers, an organization started by 26-year-old Seyi Oluyole, that gives impoverished children a place to live while teaching them how to dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Illustration by Dniella Ferretti

For 16-year-old Amanda*, dance is everything: her passion, her escape from the daily grind, and her career goal. Her parents see things differently. "I have siblings who are active in sports," Amanda says, "and my parents would rather I play soccer or basketball. They don't see dance as something I can earn a stable living from in the future. They often tell me I should just quit."

Some parents aren't able to, don't know how to, or choose not to give you the kind of support you need to thrive in the studio. And when your parents are adding stress to your life, rather than alleviating it, there's a lot at stake. "Dancers who don't have the support of their parents might struggle with self-doubt," says Dr. Linda Hamilton, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a clinical psychologist specializing in the performing arts, "while those whose parents are too involved can crack under the pressure." Whether your parents aren't there when you need them or they're always there, practically smothering you, try these tips to improve your situation.

Keep reading... Show less
💯 💯 💯 (via Instagram)

On Friday night, the iconic RuPaul made history as the first drag queen ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And it didn't take long for the world's most fabulous RuPaul fan/one of our favorite human beings, Mark Kanemura, to commemorate his idol's accomplishment with—naturally—a WALK to end all walks.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
(From left) Val Chmerkovskiy, Peta Murgatroyd, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Jerry Metellus, courtesy Nicola Phillips)

And as if this terrific trio weren't enough, "SYTYCD" finalists Koine "Koko" Iwasaki and Chris "Kiki" Nyemchek will be there, too!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Screenshot form YouTube

What do you get when a hoard of dancers collaborate to the catchy tune of "Love Somebody," by the band Frenship? The most epic dance party ever, of course! Said dance party was directed by the talented Michael Riccio, who's choreography has appeared in "La La Land" and "Dancing with the Stars."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
University of Minnesota Dance Team (courtesy University of Minnesota)

They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.

Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.

These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.

Keep reading... Show less


Want to Be on Our Cover?





Get Dance Spirit in your inbox