Georgina Pazcoguin talks about coming to terms with her body as she turns a new page at NYCB

Soloist Georgina Pazcoguin talks about her rise at New York City Ballet and working on the new Angelin Preljocaj ballet

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Time Out New York: Let’s go way back. You’re from Pennsylvania. Why did you start dancing?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I was four. I’m one of six children, and we all sort of sought attention. My way of getting attention was to be really weird; I would do whole productions of Nutcracker in my basement. My brother would be the Mouse King, and I would do every other part and give Christina, my baby sister, Clara. She also danced at that time. We’d have a ball. My nieces and nephews do the same thing now, so it must run in the family. We always had a piano, we always had a little room in our house—a safe zone—where we would experiment and the adults would come in at a certain time in the evening and watch the creativity that happened. God bless my mother, my father, and my older brothers and sisters that I made sit there through countless, countless performances.

Time Out New York: Did your parents dance?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
No. My older sister danced for a little bit. Most of my family are occupational therapists, pharmacists; my dad is a colonel and general surgeon for the V.A. Hospital, and he’s nearing retirement in April. My brother Joe is in the army right now; he’s graduating from the naval academy in December in Monterey. And Christina, who was a dancer, when I got my apprenticeship she took one look at my life and was like, “You know…no thank you.” [Laughs]

Time Out New York: Why? What did she see? 
Georgina Pazcoguin:
That it was hard. It was hard leaving home and getting into the School of American Ballet—I was fortunate to be pushed at the school and given opportunities. You get your apprenticeship, and it’s an amazing thing. You were in the fishbowl and now you’re in this ocean of extremely talented dancers so you’re knocked to the bottom of the totem pole. She has the most admiration for me; she ended up choosing a career that’s even harder. She’s an actress in L.A. She’s doing really well.

Time Out New York: When did you figure out you were good at ballet? 
Georgina Pazcoguin:
It wasn’t like I had a realization that I was good at this. I loved to perform. It’s a lot for a young child to be disciplined and to learn this technique. My reward was getting onstage. Then, once I hit the milestone of getting my pointe shoes…it was close-knit group. I’m still very best friends with Miranda Grove, who took classes with me. We’ve known each other since we were four and five. She lives here now. Those friendships were comfortable for me. When I was like, Oh, I really want to do this was when I came here on a bus trip with Allegheny Ballet to see San Francisco Ballet.

Time Out New York: You saw The Cage, right?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Yes. It was unbelievable. It’s so weird that it’s come to be that the Robbins rep is what I dance, and it was one those dark, theatrical pieces—not that I’m a dark person—but watching that was when I was like, I need to do this. Swimming out the door, horseback riding aside—let’s do this. [Laughs]

Time Out New York: When did you go to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I want to say 1997 or 1998, and that was fun because that was with Tyler Angle and Miranda Grove.

Time Out New York: Are you from the same town as Jared and Tyler Angle? Altoona?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Yes. I grew up watching Jared. We always shared teachers from CPYB, so it was just that little area of central Pennsylvania. We used to do the CPYB program and then come back and do the summer in Altoona, which was just one quick week, but super fun. And that’s how I got to know people like Ashley Bouder, even though she was just a little bit older. I met Olivia Goodrich. I remember meeting Olivia and Bouder at my first summer course at CPYB. [They] came up to me and were like, “I’m nine, and she’s eight.” Some ridiculous ages! [Laughs] I was like, Stop it. And we’ve been friends ever since.

Time Out New York: What made you audition for SAB?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I almost didn’t audition because Miranda wasn’t going to go. I was like, “I don’t want to go,” and my dad woke me up and was like, “We’re going.” I just got in the car, and we drove down to Pittsburgh and took the audition; Susie Hendl was the person at the audition. After the class, she said something to the effect of, “Unofficially, you are going to be a full scholarship,” and that was that. It launched the next step in my career. I took three summer courses before I stayed, but I was asked to stay [for the year] after each summer course. The first year, I was not ready. Coming to a place like New York City from Altoona was such a culture shock. I was not the Gina that everyone knows now.

Time Out New York: What were you like?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I was very much an introverted, geeky nerd. I still am a geeky nerd. Very much into my schoolwork, very much into books—I remember I had this summer reading I had to do, and friends that I made that summer, like Sterling [Hyltin]…the people who were in my class, we’ve all sort of managed to make it to where we are today together. They say, “You would come to class at 9am and read until 9:45am and class wouldn’t be until 10:30am, and you wouldn’t go out anywhere.” I was a little shy, and in between freshman year and sophomore year, I found myself in a sense and came back an extrovert.

Time Out New York: Maybe being here and going back home gave you confidence.
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Yeah. Especially being in Catholic school and being that person that couldn’t go to all the dances and all the football games and participate in that culture. I always knew that dancing was what I wanted to do, but you want to fit in, you want to have a boyfriend. I’ve never sat down and thought about what gave me that comfortable feeling to be myself. The next summer I was a completely different person, and we had a blast, and the third summer I came, I had an injury. I watched classes and got in for the school year. So it was a good balance between my mom letting me go and me being ready to go. The first day of school—not SAB, but the Professional Children’s School—was 9/11.

Time Out New York: What happened that day?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
It was shocking and surreal. I think I was in science class. We were called to the cafeteria, and there were stories about how there was a plane and it had crashed into the World Trade Center. We had to get back to the School of American Ballet, and they waited until they got all the dancers and walked back from 60th Street to 65th, and I remember walking back and having there be no traffic. No sounds except for sirens. We got up to the Juilliard dorms, and they told us to pack an overnight bag and meet downstairs as soon as possible, and when we went up, we could actually see the planes; we saw one of the towers go down. Patrons of SAB took us in. Somehow, through all of that, my uncle found me—he lives in New Jersey. Sean Lavery took us in, but somehow my uncle found me, and I was whisked away out of the city and things were on hold for a good week.

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