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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

NYC Principal Dancer Tiler Peck Is Ready To Present BalletNow To A Hometown Crowd

Tiler Peck BalletNow

Photo credit: Courtesy of NYC Dance Project

There’s nothing better than being able to perform back in your home state, what’s even better is curating an entire weekend of dance for audiences at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. That’s exactly what New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck is orchestrating with The Music Center’s program, BalletNow, running July 28-30 in downtown L.A.

The planning process wasn’t easy and it began about 18 months ago when The Music Center’s vice president of program management and education Michael Solomon asked her to lead the second edition of BalletNow.

“I immediately said, ‘yes, please!’ says Peck to Dance Network. “To curate — it’s a first for me — but it’s something I take a lot of pride in.”

Peck took some time to think about what ballet means to her in 2017 because the art form is constantly evolving, not only with technology, but also with the training of dancers.

“Dancers are asked to cross genres now and work with choreographers outside of ballet,” she explains. “We have a lot of range and versatility.”

She picked pieces from masters like Jerome Robbins, Kenneth McMillan and naturally, George Balanchine. Peck was also looking for new voices in the dance community, so she asked friends like Justin Peck and Christopher Wheeldon to participate in the performance weekend as well.

“Justin’s work doesn’t get shown much here in California,” she says. “I think it was important to have his work on the program since he’s moving ballet forward. And no one creates a better pas de deux than Chris.”

The NYCB principal promises something for everyone with three different and diverse evenings to choose from — from tutu to unitard ballets. Her choice of dancers ranges from American Ballet Theatre principals Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside to tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 finalist Virgil Gadson.

A unique aspect of the program is the duet between Peck and vaudeville-style stage performer and Tony-winner Bill Irwin. The piece “Time It Was/116” will be a part of the Saturday night performance.

“I love his physicality with comedy. He’s been teaching me clown elements and I’ve been teaching him ballet,” she says enthusiastically. “I want to work with people who are not only the best dancers, but who also move me when I watch them.”

Tiler Peck at The Music Center

Photo credit: Courtesy of NYC Dance Project

It has been 12 years since Peck has performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, so it means a lot to her to be dancing in her home state. She also appreciates working alongside female leaders like The Music Center’s president and CEO Rachel Moore as Peck is the first female to curate the BalletNow program.

While Peck’s next goals involve her continuing principal work with New York City Ballet, she’s definitely open to some of the commercial dance opportunities here in Los Angeles. She has known So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Travis Wall since she performed with him in the Broadway revival of The Music Man in 2000 and she collaborated with him in 2010 for Dancing With the Stars.

“I would love to do that especially since I grew up with Travis Wall,” Peck says. “I watch all of the dance TV shows and love the work that Nigel Lythgoe is doing.”

The BalletNow weekend also coincides with The Music Center and Dizzy Feet Foundation’s National Dance Day on Saturday, July 29. While Peck does have a rehearsal during the day’s events in Grand Park, she’s hoping to shoot a video with some of the BalletNow dancers to honor the day.

For more information on BalletNow, visit The Music Center’s website.

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