Tiler Peck Says This Hulu Documentary Shows Her Most Exhausted, Honest Self

Tiler Peck is coming to Hulu. Fans everywhere can catch her new documentary, called Ballet Now, starting on July 20. But Seattle residents will get a sneak peek at the Seattle International Film Festival starting tonight.

The film follows the New York City Ballet principal during her time directing the BalletNOW series at The Music Center in Los Angeles last July. And it's got some legit names behind it: The director is Steven Cantor, who's mostly known in ballet circles for directing Sergei Polunin's DANCER. And the producers include Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Productions, Cantor's Stick Figure Productions and none other than actress Elisabeth Moss, who stars in Hulu's hit "The Handmaid's Tale."


We caught up with Peck to get the inside scoop.

How She Went From Principal Dancer To Director

Peck hired dancers from NYCB, ABT, Paris Opéra Ballet, Miami City Ballet and other companies. Still from Ballet Now, via dogwoofsales.com

Last year, The Music Center reached out to Peck (who happens to be an L.A.-native) to ask if she'd curate its second-ever BalletNOW program. They gave her free reign to choose the dancers and rep—basically to put together a program of whatever she considered "Ballet Now" to mean. She created different programs for each of the three nights, featuring 24 dancers and 16 ballets overall.

Oh, and she also performed in three or four of those ballets each night.

"I had never been so tired in my life," Peck admits. "I was putting the rehearsal schedule together, I was picking out the dressing rooms, I was making sure all the costumes were together, I was going over tempos with the conductor. Anytime anybody had a question, people were looking to me. I'd be out in the audience during rehearsals, taking notes to give corrections and then I'd have to run onstage to pull on a tutu and do Stars and Stripes. "

And, whether she liked it or not, cameras were right there to capture every moment.

So What's The Elisabeth Moss Connection?

Elisabeth Moss made a point to see Tiler Peck perform in The Sleeping Beauty last year. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It turns out that Elisabeth Moss went to the same ballet school as Peck—Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica—although not at the same time. Moss told Peck that as soon as she saw her name attached to the project, she jumped at the chance to help make dance more mainstream. "She wanted to show the truth behind the scenes of what it takes," says Peck.

What It's Like To Watch Herself In The Film

Although Peck usually hates seeing herself on screen, she loves the honest way that director Steven Cantor captured her. "You can see how exhausted I was," she says. Having the week captured on film also offered an unexpected benefit: It's allowed her to relive what felt like a total whirlwind. "To rewatch those performances and see everything I was going through, it gave me a chance to really take it all in."

Her Next Challenge: Choreographing at Vail Dance Festival

Tiler Peck with Lil Buck at Vail 2013. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail.

Although Peck has tried her hand at choreography in various ways ever since she was a kid, she's never made a piece in a professional setting. During a birthday dinner with Vail Dance Festival director Damian Woetzel in January, he told her, "I'm thinking it's time for you to choreograph." She admitted that she'd been thinking about the same thing.

Before she knew it, Woetzel had told The New York Times that she'd be choreographing, so she couldn't back out. "I'm definitely nervous, but at this point in my career, I figure, why not try it now?" she says. "There's never going to be a 'right' time."

Her plans? So far she knows she wants to use a piece of music composed by a friend, and she's hoping to work with four dancers, including one woman and three men. "But it's all still up in the air."

The Biggest Surprise? Getting Inspired To Direct More

Peck seems to accept any challenge thrown her way. Still from Ballet Now, via dogwoofsales.com

The BalletNOW performances left Peck wanting to direct again. "I totally surprised myself," she says. "Putting together those shows is definitely one of my proudest moments of my career. And it made me feel like I might want to be an artistic director at some point."

She loves finding these new sides of herself. And she's totally open to discovering more. "A lot has happened to me in the past year. At this point, that's what I want to do most—just push myself and see what I can do."

Latest Posts


Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021