With four world premieres on the â€¨lineup, the 2011-2012 season at New York City Ballet is sure to be exciting. But the company’s most anticipated new work, Ocean’s Kingdom, comes from a trio of creative masters: It features choreography â€¨by NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins, a score by former Beatles front man Paul McCartney and red carpet–worthy costumes by fashion designer (and Sir Paul’s daughter)Stella McCartney.
The piece tells a Little Mermaid-esque story, with NYCB principals Sara Mearns, Amar Ramasar and Robert Fairchild dancing the leads. Also debuting in Ocean’s Kingdom is senior corps de ballet member Georgina Pazcoguin, who chatted with DS about her role as Scala in the groundbreaking premiere.
Dance Spirit: How did you find â€¨out you’d be dancing a lead role â€¨in Ocean’s Kingdom? Georgina Pazcoguin: Ballet mistress Rosemary Dunleavy pulled me aside one day. She said, “You’re going to be one of the leads in the new Peter ballet.” I was like, “Excuse me?” She said, “You’re going to be Scala,” and I said, “What is Scala?” My first rehearsal was the next day! As it turns out, Scala is the disillusioned leader of the ballet’s handmaidens. She’s a servant with a chip on her shoulder. â€¨It’s a feisty, dramatic character! DS: What do you think is most exciting about this piece? GP: Knowing that Paul McCartney is composing a score for a ballet—specifically for us—is amazing. How could you not love Paul McCartney? And for Stella to be doing the costumes, making it a family affair, is wonderful. I’ve especially enjoyed working closely with Peter. It’s been a great chance for me to show him what I can do.
DS: Are you nervous about â€¨your debut? GP: I’m sure nerves will come up, especially pertaining to the costumes. There’s talk of a big cape I’ll be dancing with, and some wings. I’m also nervous about dancing next to Sara Mearns, who â€¨is one of the top NYCB dancers—that’s a big pressure. But I’m up for the challenge and am enjoying defining my character. It will all come together by opening night.
DS: Why should people see â€¨Ocean’s Kingdom? GP: First and foremost, see it for the dancers. NYCB has a brand-new generation of dancers rising through the ranks. The company is transforming. Then come for Stella’s amazing costumes. Her ideas are incredible, and she wants every look to be like a runway look. Peter’s choreography is going to be great and the score is breathtaking. It’s a dream team.
Ocean’s Kingdom premieres September 22 at NYC’s David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
Photos top to bottom: Peter Martins and Georgina Pazcoguin rehearse Ocean's Kingdom, photo by Paul Kolnik; Robert Fairchild and Pazcoguin in rehearsal, photo by Paul Kolnik
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?