Tiler Peck – Destined to be a NYCB Ballerina

Tiler Peck’s story is like a movie. She is from Bakersfield, California and got her start dancing when she was young at her mother’s dance studio. Jazz technique was her favorite, but her mother encourage her to have a strong ballet base. At seven she began to take private classes with Bolshoi ballerina Alla Khaniashvili. Soon after, she began ballet classes in Santa Monica at Westside School of Ballet from former New York City Ballet (NYCB) principal Yvonne Mounsey and with other NYCB alum Colleen and Patricia Neary. She continued to do other performing arts activities such as acting and singing as a child, and with the help of her agent, Victoria Morris, Peck was also able to advance her career. Some of these career pushing activities included movies (I.e. Donny Darko, A Time for Dancing, and Geppetto), ballet performances such as Clara (en Pointe) in the the Radio City Spectacular at Universal Studios at ten, and Broadway in NYC at 11 in the revival of The Music Man. At thirteen her mentors, and NYCB alumni encouraged her to apply to the School of American Ballet. She was accepted and began her studies in NYC for two summers before moving to New York to study Ballet full-time. At New York City Ballet, one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world, she moved up the ranks quickly. In 2004 she joined as an apprentice. In 2005 as apart of the corp. In 2006 she was promoted to soloist. Finally, in 2009 she was moved up to a principal where continues to be today.  (All date and background information found through Dance Magazine’s “The Magnetic Tiler Peck” by Astrida Woods)

Her artistry in her dancing is breathe taking. Peck loses herself on stage in a work and has developed a musicality that is revered. She makes every port de bra, every pirouette, and each arabesque look natural and unhurried. Her presence within pieces such as Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousal or the Romantic duet in Jerome Robbin’s Fancy Free is storytelling that can make any ballet hater want to go see another. Peck’s story isn’t all sunshine and roses. Just like any artist she has had successes as well as set backs. In 2007, at eighteen, she broke her back and was out for six months. That kind of injury, and that length of time being out can be career ending. The loss of technique, flexibility, and the competition of up and coming ballerinas can put many injured dancers at a crossroad where they need to retire. Peck persevered, healed, and became more flexible, a stronger dancer, and developed a thought process of potential plans after dancing.

In the performing arts world there has been exploration among artists who continue to push boundaries as not only an artist, but continue to develop new ways to increase revenue streams and become more of a public face. In music you see artists crossing genres like Taylor Swift going from Country to Pop or even switching performing art styles like Kiesza going from being a professional dancer to a singer. In dance, it’s becoming more prevalent for professional ballet dancers to do other activities outside of their company contract. In Peck’s case she recently had the lead role in a new musical performed at the Kennedy Center called Little Dancer as well as did a six week run on Broadway with On The Town. Peck isn’t the only one in the ballet world doing cross over work. Other artists such as Robert Fairchild (led of Wheeldon’s Broadway Musical An American in Paris) and Megan Fairchild (On The Town). It doesn’t stop there either. Just like musical acts, they are starting to cash in on branding, like Peck with Body Wrappers Apparel, Misty Copland with under armor, and Lauren Froderman with Gatorade.  These crossovers are exciting because Ballet and dance in general is becoming more popular in society and not just looked as an elite art form.

If you look at Peck story it seemed that she was destined to be at NYCB. Her story also gives you insight on how a successful Ballerina gets to the top and understanding that sacrifice as a child is where it starts. Peck didn’t have a normal life. She pushed boundaries by being involved in all walks of the performing arts, left home at a young age, and had developed an understanding that she is not going to be a ballerina forever. For now, I look forward to continuing to see her breath taking performances around the world, as well as being a role model for mini ballerinas to look to for strength, guidance, and an understanding of the dance world.

Below you will find Tiler Peck’s insight and dancing on Balanchine’s TSCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX

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Lauren Lovette – The Next Prima Ballerina?

Lauren Lovette has been raising star at the New York City Ballet (NYCB) since 2009.  Lovette has the impidiemy of the Balenchine ballerina body, with legs for days, long arms, and tiny torso frame that gives her that perfect look for any dancer on stage.  She started dancing at 11 years old which is late for any dancer, let alone a dancer that has become a professional with one of the best dance companies in the world.  She started her training at the School of American Ballet at 14 years old, an apprentice at NYCB at 18, which soon followed by a corps contract, and now she is a soloist (background on Lovette found at Dance Spirit Magazine Article by Margaret Fuhrer)

Even through she has the perfect body for the ballets at NYCB, she also has an effortless quality about her when she is dancing on stage.  Having a dance background, the first thing I look at are a dancer’s feet.  I am usually mesmerize by their feet that I never look up at their face.  There are only a select few ballerinas where I am fully focused on facial expressions, leg work, and grace within their upper body, and Lovette has that power.

Last year (2014) at the Vail International Dance Festival she danced excepts of ‘Giselle’ with NYCB male soloist Chase Finely.  My entire attention was on Lovette, from the adagio where her arms floated like an extension of her dress as they extended with each lift and arabesque, to the ever so tilt of her head as the excerpt led into a petite allegro with quick changements, passés, and littles jumps that glided across stage like a gazelle.  She has this power that brings you into the dance and makes the audience members live with her in that moment including every feeling – love, anger, hurt, adoration, happiness, and sadness.

In my opinion, being a ballerina is one of the most difficult professions.  There has to be not only a love of dance, but a full dedication and willingness to sacrifice.  By sacrifice I mean giving up your adolescent social life to spend time in the studio practicing and rehearsing, to being dedicated as an adult by being willing to live from contract to contract, as well as working multiple jobs till you get your big break.  Incompassing all of this you need to keep your body in perfect health by eating the right foods, cross training in coordination to eight hours worth of rehearsals, and getting the proper amount of rest.

Lovette is one of the many ballerina that NYCB has helped to develop, but when she is on stage she has light that makes her standout.  Now that she has concurred Juliet this year (February 2015), I hope to see her dance Odiet in the near future as her light continues to rise at NYCB.

Ballet – The Best Form of Dance

Ballet-Pointe-ShoesBallet has always been my favorite form of dance.  When I was a little girl, it made me feel like a princess, and as I got older, the grace and beauty that I saw made me want to be just like Suzanne Farrell, Julie Kent, Darcey Bussell, and Sylvie Gulliem.  Suzanne Farrell was my favorite ballerina which is probably why I have a soft spot for the New York City Ballet.  I was lucky enough to take class from her during a Paul Taylor Dance Intensive and she was one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the privilege to learn from in a classroom.  Her expressionism and the way she describe movement and music when we were learning excerpts from Paul Taylor’s ‘Airs’ was like listening to a fairytale.  She had a way of describing a dance like it was a story and that as dancers we need to dive into the work mind, body, and soul because if we didn’t the audience would not engage.  I think Ballet teaches dancers to have this type of attitude in the classroom, and it continues to carry over to other styles of dance as well as on stage as young dancers grow as artists.

Now as an adult and teaching ballet to students three to nine years old, I am working on instilling those same thoughts and mind-sets to my students.  I have taught all ages of students over the years, but having students from the beginning of their ballet days is the perfect opportunity to mold new dancers to have the correct habits from the right form of technique to the mind-set of dedication, discipline, and determination.  Teaching kids can be hard.  All they want to do is run around and yell since their attention span is two seconds.  I have learned that you have to turn everything into a game and use descriptive words that relate to animals or images that they know.

There is one girl who is nine that I have been teaching for the last four years and it is amazing how her technique has grown from her turning ability, the strength of her balances, and the way she carries her balletic style.  She has now started taking tap and jazz classes with me this year, and through ballet she has developed the skills to catch on quickly to new movement, knows the importance of her shifting weight, and  brings confidence when she is learning new steps.

I wish I could say that I came to the importance of ballet when I was a kid, but I can honestly tell you that I didn’t really understand the importance of ballet until college.  My biggest suggestion to every dancer out there is to never stop taking ballet.  It gives you the skills such as a strong core, arms, and legs as well as develops a support system within your body that can carry into other styles.  No matter how hard a ballet class is, as a dancer you need to fight everyday to be better.  Ballet makes you do the impossible, and with practice, makes the viewer think that the movement is possible by anyone.  So fight for that better balance, that longer arabesque, or that perfect pirouette.  Take a ballet class at least once a week and if you can’t afford it, give yourself one by taking a video or a book out of the library, or find someone you know and give each other class.  In the words of Suzanne Farrell, “You don’t learn from a situation where you do something well. You enjoy it and you give yourself credit, but you don’t really learn from that. You learn from trial and error, trial and error, all the time.”