“City.ballet.” Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: Getting Inside One Choreographer’s Process

Troy and his choreographic tools

In this episode, we get a glimpse into corps member Troy Schumacher’s big premiere for New York City Ballet’s fall gala. Up until now, the young, breakout choreographer of NYCB has been Justin Peck, and he’s gotten a lot of press. But Schumacher definitely looks like someone to keep an eye on.

I found it endearing to hear him describe his choreographic process, which he says always starts with him finding an empty studio to dance around “like an idiot.” He claims he’s been listening to the same piece of music for three years in preparation for this piece—and if you choreograph for a studio, I’m sure you can relate. (I bet there’s a sizable group of choreographers just waiting for Sia’s “Chandelier” to become old and forgotten, so that they can try their hands at it.)

The dancers, onstage and in costume

My favorite part of the episode was hearing Schumacher talk about the difficulty of casting a six-person piece from the cornucopia of talent that NYCB is. Being surrounded with so much talent is like “going to a buffet when you’re really hungry,” he says. What a great analogy!

An interesting item: In journalism, a “puff” piece is a story that comes across as completely subjective, often lavishing a ridiculous amount of praise on the story’s subject. But in the ballet world, as principal Teresa Reichlen explains, a piece that’s “puffy” is one that requires a lot of huffing and, well, puffing to get through its challenging and exhausting choreography.

Click here to watch the full episode.

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"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

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Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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