Corps de Ballet: “city.ballet.” Episode Three

“Now the work begins,” warns Peter Martins, as newly hired corps members celebrate their contracts. The third installment of New York City Ballet’s “city.ballet.” webseries introduces viewers to life in the corps of one of the nation’s top companies. The corps is, put simply by narrator and executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker, “the large group dancing in unison around the featured roles” in a ballet. Other company members elaborate: The corps is the backdrop, the base, the architecture of the ballet. One new face in the corps, Silas Farley, sums up the experience of being asked to join the company: “It’s equal measures elation and terror.” The stakes are high, he adds, but by the time they make it that far, dancers feel ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

The episode’s most important takeaways:

1. Apprentices get hired exactly how you thought they did, based on Center Stage. They’re still in their dance clothes when they get called into a room with the director, and then they freak out and call their parents! Pretty cute, really.

2. Even great dancers—great enough to be hired by NYCB—may not make it. It’s depressing, in a way, but a valuable reality check. “It’s only my third year, and I already feel my body winding down,” says corps member Harrison Ball. We see him execute breathtaking jumps in slow motion, with perfectly pointed feet. When he says, “I just hope there’s a future in ballet for me,” I think, Of course there is! Look at you! But the industry’s competition is so intense that success is never a sure thing.

3. There’s a ton of corps bonding—some of NYCB’s highly ranked dancers reflect fondly on their time in the corps not only as a valuable training experience, but as a period when they built relationships with their fellow dancers. “It’s great to get out there and do something special,” says principal Megan Fairchild, “but it’s even better to share it with someone.”

4. It takes time to make it to the top. We learn that up-and-coming soloist Georgina Pazcoguin spent 10 years in the corps. She’d even begun to question her career path when she was finally promoted! It’s easy from the outside to see that Pazcoguin (featured last summer in Dance Magazine) was always bound for the spotlight, but she still had to put in the hours—and the hard work—to climb the ranks.

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