NYCB Moves will step into Northridge, Santa Barbara
Growing up in Bakersfield, Tiler Peck forged a connection to George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet by taking classes with three of that company’s former ballerinas — Yvonne Mounsey, Patricia Neary and Colleen Neary. Her first love, however, was jazz dance, and it was a Broadway show rather than a commitment to ballet that initially brought Peck to New York City at age 11.
While performing in Susan Stroman's revival of “The Music Man,” Peck found her way to the School of American Ballet, which trains dancers for NYCB. The classes there helped her understand ballet in a new light — and put her on an accelerated path to the company, which she joined at 15.
“What makes the Balanchine technique so interesting is the way everything is not square and methodical. In all his choreography, it feels like there couldn’t be any other step than what he chose for that piece of music,” she said last week in New York between rehearsals as the company concluded its fall season. Now 22 and a principal dancer, she has had plenty of opportunity to put her stamp on Balanchine roles.
Peck, admired for her effortless technical ability and instinctive musicality, will be the youngest of six diverse principal ballerinas who will appear when New York City Ballet Moves, 20-member offshoot of the 92-member troupe, performs in Santa Barbara and Northridge this week. In addition to three performances, they will offer several master classes.
Moves’ repertory is drawn from that of the main company but focuses on ballets with scores for piano and chamber ensembles. It includes one work each by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, the choreographers who originally shaped the company, plus five ballets created within the past 25 years — three by Peter Martins, two by Christopher Wheeldon.
Peck’s versatility will be showcased in four major performances over the Southern California dates — in “Dances at a Gathering,” Robbins’ grand yet intimate masterpiece to Chopin; “Polyphonia,” the intricate neoclassical work that announced Wheeldon’s artistic maturity; and two contrasting Martins works: “Zakouski,” a showpiece duet set to Russian musical bonbons; and “A Fool for You,” in which Peck reconnects to her jazz roots by dancing to Ray Charles.
— Susan Reiter
Photo: Joaquin De Luz and Tiler Peck in Ballanchine's "Dances at a Gathering." Credit: Paul Kolnik.