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

Time Out New York: How did you get through that as a group?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
It was sad. I took class with someone [at PCS] who lost his dad that day. It took a while; my uncle did such a great thing. He would take me out of the city on the weekends when I didn’t have school. There was a lot of apple picking. I was friends with Paige Finlay, Chase’s sister who was at the school, and Chase’s mom would come and take us to Connecticut occasionally, and we’d have fun times out there. Through the grace of other people, I think the parents that were close kept an eye on the friends of the kids whose parents were farther away. It took its natural course. I didn’t have nightmares or anything like that, but the whole reaction to it—my brother has since been in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s stuff like that; dealing with having your brother be overseas serving in a war and being put in danger is where it gets hard. I remember when he came back. I was taking Sean Lavery’s class when I got the call, and I felt like the weight of the world was suddenly off my shoulders. I burst into tears and everyone was like, “You’re just having a moment,” and I was like, No, this isn’t a female moment, this was I didn’t realize how much stress I had taken on from this. I’m weird with holding stress. So that was the first couple of months, and then it just carried on. Then we started working on Workshop. We just got back into the focus of ballet.

Time Out New York: What did you dance at Workshop?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I did fourth-movement Brahms [-Schoenberg Quartet]. That was so much fun. To this day. I wish I could get another crack at it.

Time Out New York: Do you think you will?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want the defeatist in me to say no. Maybe some day. I’d love to.

Time Out New York: What was that experience like?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
It was funny, because I was also preparing to do the lead in Ballo [della Regina] for that Workshop, too.

Time Out New York: Why didn’t you dance it?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I had a broken foot. I was hurting and they wanted me to do Monday night’s fourth-movement Brahms. Which was the night or something—there’s always got to be some competition put into it. I remember Kay [Mazzo] sitting me down. I said, “I can do it.” And Ballo was the one I was dying to do; that was the one that didn’t feed into what I normally did. Even then, I fit fourth-movement Brahms so well, and the fact that there was so much technicality in Ballo—I really loved that, even though I would come out of those rehearsals and cry and hate myself, but I would go back every day and wanted to do more and it was getting better. I just had to make a decision. I remember Kay saying something like, “You don’t want to look greedy” or “You don’t want to be greedy. You’re going to be fine. This is not going to affect your career or anything.” I didn’t even know if I wanted to be in NYCB. I was here. I first saw San Francisco, so San Francisco was on the brain. I had no idea that out of that Workshop I would get an apprenticeship. I think it all worked out the way it was supposed to.

Time Out New York: How long were you an apprentice?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I don’t know. They weren’t so sold on Georgina Pazcoguin as an apprentice.

Time Out New York: Why?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
I feel like my battle here at NYCB will always be uphill, but it’s got a positive swing at the end. You know? She’ll make it. It wasn’t until I was actually a corps member that they embraced me as me. Thank God I was able to find my way.

Time Out New York: How did you find your way?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
By being determined. They weren’t happy with my body. And [they] had a very weird way of telling me that they weren’t happy with my body, so I struggled with that. I had, in a sense—this is going to sound so corny—bloomed late. All of a sudden, there is an influx of hormones, and you have an actual job; you’re living on your own and then they’re like, “Why are you not happy here?” I’m like, “Of course I’m happy here!” And then it sort of went into a body talk. In a year or two, my body had evened itself out. And even now it’s evening itself out. I will never be that super, super thin, skeletal [dancer]—but I am very much still a ballerina and still a dancer, and I can attain a line occasionally. [Laughs] Occasionally! These are still things that I work for today, ten years later. You don’t ever forget that they weren’t sure. I am not afraid to say that I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve, because it hasn’t been easy. I fought for it. And it’s not that the others haven’t, but just having that time to think about it and to really try to make myself better—not just for them, but for me—and to take every sort of disappointment or resistance and find a way to make myself stronger, to make my technique stronger, to make myself as an artist stronger. It’s that resilience that has made me ready for this next step. I don’t anticipate it being all of a sudden easy. I anticipate it being harder to go further. 

Time Out New York: Why?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Because now there’s the pressure of you’ve reached a certain level, a certain title and so people expect certain things of you, or you get stuck in that certain rep. You don’t want to get stuck in certain rep—you don’t want to get stuck in any position. No artist wants to be told: “You do great water painting. You can do that and only that for the rest of your life.”  That’s just not what the whole idea of ballet to me is about, of dancing, of NYCB. It’s never gelled with me.

Time Out New York: What is that idea?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Just the idea of fitting into a suit that you wear and that’s what you do. I think that people should be able to explore and challenge themselves, and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. What’s the big deal? It’s all subjective anyway. [Peter Martins] may not like it, but there’ll be other people who will like it. It’s hard to find that in a huge institution such as NYCB, so that’s where you have to find the gives and takes and the patience.

Time Out New York: At least there is room for that here.
Georgina Pazcoguin:
Yeah. We’re lucky that we use our own talent. We don’t have a lot of guests come in. There’s just an extreme pool of talent here. So finding those things and wanting them here and pushing for them here, I’m also trying to find them now that I have this position elsewhere in some of my other gigs. And try to satisfy that need.

Time Out New York: Of those other gigs, you have Ballet Next. What else?
Georgina Pazcoguin:
American Dance Machine for the 21st Century. It’s so much fun. They all are. And just over the summer, I got my real-estate license. [Laughs] Well, it was a slow summer! There weren’t a lot of gigs; for the past couple of years, there’s always been a gig in Italy or Spain or something would pop up, and this summer there was talk of a Broadway workshop, which fell through. I found myself with a couple weeks and this goal that I’ve had on the back burner. I said, You know what? I’m just going to do it, and six weeks later…. When I go to school, I’m a perfectionist. So I went for it, and then there’s the OCD of, I have to get it done in these certain dates. I ended up having the time, and it gave my body time to recover. It was a strenuous dancing year, and it was a nice reset time. I was still dancing and cross-training; it just fed my mind for a little bit, and it’s something I’m really interested in, too. So why not start and just have it be ready so if and when the time comes to make a transition out of movement, which I hope isn’t soon, it’s there. There’s a solid foundation. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where I have no idea of what next would be. I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the stresses of NYCB and go to college full-time, as some dancers do. I think they’re amazing to get it done. I know I would make myself miserable and hate both things. Why not just love one thing?

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