What makes choreography compelling? Whether you consider a work’s musicality or steps, formations or narrative, it often comes down to one thing: the element of surprise. Justin Peck is a master of this. He’ll bring two partners together for what seems like the beginning of a sumptuous lift—and then have them take off in opposite directions. Or he’ll ask the corps to hit an elegant classical position—while lying on the floor. This ability to counter expectations has skyrocketed Peck from a dancer dabbling in dancemaking to a national force in choreography in just two short years. Now New York City Ballet’s official resident choreographer, Peck will be creating or setting work on five major companies this season, and a documentary about his creative process, Ballet 422, is about to be released nationwide. The ballet world has been waiting anxiously for the next Christopher Wheeldon, the next Alexei Ratmansky. I think we’ve found him.
Right: “With Justin, it wasn’t difficult to see the raw gifts that he possessed right away.”—NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins on his company’s new resident choreographer. Photo by Jayme Thornton.
Peck’s not the only reason to be excited about the fall performance season. As budgets seem to have (mostly) recovered from the recession, it feels like the pent-up artistic energy finally has the resources to be let out. We’ve got the scoop on the 10 most intriguing premieres and tours going on around the country. These are the productions that everyone will be talking about. And yes, one of our picks is NYCB’s fall season, which boasts world premieres by Ratmansky, Liam Scarlett—and Justin Peck.
In this issue we also offer a peek inside the life of a Broadway dancer while she is between gigs. Leah Hofmann is scheduled to start rehearsals of Susan Stroman’s The Merry Widow soon, but she let us follow her around for a day while she juggled side gigs, an audition, jazz class and a meeting with her agent, and she shared insight into how she makes it all work. She’s learned all too well the unpredictability of this career: Shows get cancelled, roles get assigned at last minute, choreographers ask for skills you didn’t know you had. She stays prepared for whatever opportunities might come her way. Because life isn’t all that different from dance: The surprises are often the best parts.
Editor in Chief