Justin Peck's New Dance Kingdom ; with a Calm Hand, Choreographer Prepares for Debut of His 10th Ballet

By Seibert, Brian | International New York Times, February 2, 2016 | Go to article overview

Justin Peck's New Dance Kingdom ; with a Calm Hand, Choreographer Prepares for Debut of His 10th Ballet


Seibert, Brian, International New York Times


"The Most Incredible Thing," which debuts on Tuesday in New York, is the 10th ballet Mr. Peck has choreographed for the New York City ballet since he joined in 2007.

In a 19th-century stone castle in Yonkers, the ballet choreographer Justin Peck tried something he had never tried before: directing a film. He did not look nervous. Nor did he seem intimidated by his surroundings: the ornate, centuries-old furnishings from Europe; the travel trunks left in the attic by the Ballets Russes choreographer Michel Fokine, who lived and taught in the castle in the 1930s. Gently making suggestions or demonstrating what he had in mind, the 28-year-old Mr. Peck appeared self- assured. "If that doesn't work," he said at one point, "I have a Plan B."

Both the attitude and the preparedness behind it are characteristic. The film, shot in November, was a small side project, a trailer for "The Most Incredible Thing," Mr. Peck's new work for New York City Ballet, where he is resident choreographer and a soloist. If he were a more anxious person, this ballet, which will was set to have its debut at the David H. Koch Theater on Tuesday, could give him plenty to be anxious about. The cast of 56 dancers, including 11 children from the School of American Ballet, is more than twice as large as any he has handled before. And this is his first attempt at narrative -- the kind of story ballet that audiences are said to clamor for and that contemporary choreographers rarely succeed in delivering.

It's an important, perhaps inevitable, test for a choreographer who is now in extreme global demand. In April, San Francisco Ballet will present its first premiere by him. When Miami City Ballet visits New York that month, it will show off one of two Peck creations it has recently commissioned. In July, the august Paris Opera Ballet will add its imprimatur, performing its first Justin Peck premiere only a few months after performing his earlier "In Creases." New Peck, old Peck: Everyone seems to want a piece of Peck.

One work that many want is "Year of the Rabbit." (Miami City, Dutch National Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet will all perform it in the next few months.) That was the first piece of his that New York City Ballet performed in Manhattan, way back in 2012. Mr. Peck was still in the corps of City Ballet, which he joined in 2007. He has since been promoted, but it's his choreographic career that has raced at rabbit speed. "The Most Incredible Thing" is his 10th work for his home troupe.

As the numbers have mounted, so has the praise, the critical assessments that place him at the very top of ballet choreographers, with Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. This may be the greatest pressure of all: high expectations.

"The Most Incredible Thing" takes its story from an 1870 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The music, however, is brand-new -- an orchestral score by Bryce Dessner, a genre-defying composer who is also a member of the indie rock band the National. The scenery and costumes -- by Marcel Dzama, an artist with his own hip associations -- are extravagant and fanciful. But there are no projections or special effects. The aim, Mr. Peck explained a few weeks ago, was to honor "the way ballets used to be made."

It seems telling that Mr. Peck, who has a significant following on Instagram and who has choreographed for an iPad app, has chosen a fable about the value of craftsmanship and the enduring power of art. Andersen's tale concerns a contest for the hand of the king's daughter and half the kingdom. The young man who wins is a creative type. The "most incredible thing" that he designs and builds is an extraordinary contraption, a clock of moving figures with a different assemblage for each hour: the four seasons at the stroke of four, the nine muses at the stroke of nine.

People have been suggesting stories to Mr. Peck for a while, he said: "This one stuck because it translates so well into dance. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Justin Peck's New Dance Kingdom ; with a Calm Hand, Choreographer Prepares for Debut of His 10th Ballet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.