Choreographer's Collage: Justin Peck

(by Paul Kolnik)

Justin Peck’s ballets are at once contemporary and playful, with intricate partnering and kaleidoscopic formations. Though the New York City Ballet corps member began choreographing just three years ago, he’s already made works for the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival and the Columbia Ballet Collaborative at Columbia University (where he takes academic classes). Last year, Peck was the New York Choreographic Institute’s first active choreographer-in-residence. NYCB performed his first work for the company, In Creases, in July, and will premiere an expansion of his 2010 work, Tales of a Chinese Zodiac, this month. What inspires Peck? Read on to find out!

“To me, 50 percent of the choreographic battle is finding the right music. The musical score acts as my blueprint. I look through it as I listen to the music, trying to accentuate subtle details with choreographic interpretation. It’s like solving a puzzle. I’ve been working with Sufjan Stevens to orchestrate my new work for NYCB. I feel a strong connection to Stevens. He pays respect to composers of the past, but still maintains his own voice.”

NYCB dancers rehearse George Balanchine’s Symphony in C

“I’ve learned a lot about the structure of ballet by watching the patterns and flow of George Balanchine’s choreography, especially in pieces with big casts. His Symphony in Three Movements is one of my favorite ballets. I’ll often watch rehearsals from the fourth ring of the theater to take in the architecture from above.”   

“During my residency with the NYCI, I

collaborated with composer Conrad Winslow. We’re both foodies, so we decided to try to capture the dining experience with our piece. We went to restaurants together, wrote down adjectives that came to mind and took pictures of the food. It’s a little absurd, but it was interesting and fun.” 

Emilie Gerrity (forefront) rehearses Peck’s In Creases for the New York Choreographic Institute

“Sara Adams and Emilie Gerrity are younger dancers in the company who have recently inspired me. They’re just starting to emerge as artists, and it’s great to give them the opportunity to be featured. It’s mutually beneficial, I think.”

“Janie Taylor is open to experimenting with choreographic ideas and meets me halfway. We have a great chemistry in the studio.”

“When I got stuck while creating Tales of a Chinese Zodiac, I’d sometimes delve into researching a particular zodiac sign. Then, I’d just take a word and run with it. For example, while researching ‘Year of the Ox,’ I read a passage that included the word ‘linear.’ I then applied that word to the choreographic structure.” 

(by Paul Kolnik)

“I bicycle a lot while listening to music. It’s a good time to let my mind wander and respond to the music.”

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search