Peter Martins has been ballet master in chief for more than 30 years at New York City Ballet. (He transferred from the Royal Danish Ballet after falling in love with the musical West Side Story.) Thirty years at the helm is pretty impressive, but what’s even more remarkable is his lack of ego in the studio. In this episode, we get to watch Martins mount a revival of his ballet Morgen (created in 2001) for NYCB’s 2014 Fall Gala. He is surprisingly cavalier about the original choreography. He encourages his dancers to make the steps their own and says that with dance, you can “fix” parts of your work down the road—unlike painters, who must content themselves with what ends up on the canvas once a painting is sold.
My favorite part of the episode was Martins talking about how he worries over the dancers’ reactions to his choreography. He describes their poker faces as he goes over the steps with them, wishing he had more insight into whether they like the choreography for Morgen or not. Listening to the artistic director of New York City Ballet express his doubts reminds me that all choreographers—famous ballet makers or studio teachers or guest artists—share the same fears and face the same obstacles.