The dashing NYCB principal talks ballet.
Mon Apr 25 2011
Is there a teacher that you have in mind during the pas de deux?
Well, it would be weird to say Peter Boal. When I was younger and in Utah, I was at a jazz studio, [and] there was a teacher, Laura King, who just brought that drive for dancing out of me—the thrill of pushing, of what it feels like in the moment. She was really pivotal. I was young and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and I was like, "I want to be on Broadway!" I didn't know what Broadway was; I didn't know where it was. But I knew I wanted to be there because I watched Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Laura comes from L.A. and did music videos and shows with pop singers, and she inspired me so that I wanted to go in that direction. Then Peter Boal came along, and he was doing Oberon [in A Midsummer Night's Dream ]. I was like, Guys can dance like that? I didn't know ballet was this powerful. I'm moved. And Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto did the divertissement at the end. If I could watch that performance again, I would.
When Megan, your sister, suggested you come here, you hadn't seen Peter Boal, right?
No. I had never seen a performance. In 2002, the company did Live from Lincoln Center, and I watched [Ulysses Dove's] Red Angels with Peter Boal over and over and over again. I had a chance to learn it for the Fall for Dance festival. I never got to do it because I was coming back from an injury, but it's funny. The two ballets that I put on such high pedestals were Red Angels and Apollo. With Red Angels, I get in touch with my jazzy side.
I suppose it's a good one for feeling the movement. I'm sorry! I'm not a huge fan.
I think it was just because I loved Peter Boal so much that I admired the ballet. But learning it in rehearsals, it's a different... It's not really what I thought. Maybe that's because I didn't get to do it? Once you break a piece down into steps, sometimes it loses its...
It's not that good, is it? It's not! It's crap.
[Makes a tortured face] Oh, yeah, yeah. And that was interesting for me. In something like Duo, where there's so much mystery about it, and then you peel the layers, and it still gets more interesting and more interesting. That's brilliant. I love that that can happen in a dance. So when Red Angels came along, the crowd gets into it, I get into it, but...
It's a little hollow in the end.
My question is always, Why is the crowd so into it?
Yeah. It's fun to let it all out basically. But for me, I like my story thing, so even if there isn't one, I like to make up a little something. It may just be something I think about or an impotence for movement. Otherwise, I think it gets so arbitrary: Those European things, they all just look the same. And that's such a stereotype; some are stunning. But a few... Something I love is [Angelin Preljocaj's] La Stravaganza.
I liked it when it premiered, but now I think that was my younger side coming through—maybe what Red Angels was for you. It was just so different originally.
My sister said the same thing. She said that maybe it's the pauses—we took such long pauses from movement to movement. Like all that walking you do to transition in the piece? I don't know if that's what lost the...
The tension, right? There's no tension.
It felt really flat and so, so dark.
The lighting? That's interesting. I feel the programming was interesting too. We did it on the same program as [Douglas Lee's] Lifecasting.
I liked that. Well, I liked it the most the first time I saw it and then subsequently not as much. But I didn't hate it.
It's kind of like all that stuff.