Art

BalletCollective with Choreographer Troy Schumacher

A show not to miss. If you like to watch young gods flying, that is.

Story and photos by Icarus Blake - icarus@citizenbrooklyn.com Video by Raoul Beltrame and Icarus Blake

BalletCollective Choreographer: Troy Schumacher from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.

Will Dance for Food

We lived in Paris, half way between Pigalle and the Sacred Heart. Young dancers, six in one ground floor apartment, training eight hours a day. We would come home in pain, eat something and go dance in the subway to make some money to pay for classes. We had beautiful bodies and we thought we could fly. And fly we did, through the streets of Paris like lesser gods at play in the midst of common mortals. But only very few actually make a good living out of dancing. It is a brutal, demanding discipline. One that rewards you with the most intense body-high you can imagine. One that can also abruptly end you, throwing you back into the world of mortals. It was a pleasure to see the skills of the BalletCollective, here in New York, the other day. It was a throw back in time. These are fine young dancers under the direction of a good choreographer. A show not to miss. If you like to watch young gods flying, that is.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Interview with: Choreographer Troy Schumacher

Citizen Brooklyn: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about BalletCollective.
Troy Schumacher: My name is Troy Schumacher and aside from choreographing and funding this company, I dance for New York City Ballet. I was born in Georgia. I moved up to New York when I was fifteen to study ballet at the School of American Ballet, and two years later I joined NYC ballet. I came to New York in 2002 and I started dancing with NYCB in the winter of 2005. So, it’s been a few years. In the winter of 2010, I met a visual artist and we started talking about the idea of collaboration and what it’s like to really collaborate and what kind of challenges that occur with that, the nature of ballet and dance and how it needs so many elements to exist. Why not make it all new and have artists work together to create ballets as equals, which will then produce clothing and art, and music and literature. So we started off and we made a ballet in 2010 and we were very interested by the results. I choreographed it and I used six of my fellow colleagues from NYCB and we just did a small workshop outside of the city. We were intrigued by what kinda came out of it, but also kind of the value that we all got from it. So I kind of kept this going and slowly presenting annual performances in New York City and doing some smaller things. Just trying to get the music world, the fashion world, the arts world and I guess the literary world involved. So, this kind of piece that you just saw, that we are about to premiere, I created in collaboration with a poet Cynthia Zarin. She is the writer, long time New Yorker contributor. She’s been in New York Times, she is an establish poet. Also through music, I was introduced to a young composer named Ellis Ludwig-Leone who is a fairly recent Yale graduate. The element that interests me is music element. As a choreographer, music is a huge inspiration to me but this is also about taking ballet and removing, kind of, the stigma that is with it. So I want everything to be kind of accessible; I want the dancers to look like people, but I also want the music to be very relatable. There is a wave of indie rock musicians composing in classical form. What’s important to a choreographer is different from what’s important to a composer or to a poet. We find a kind of common ground to make it work. The poet went and wrote a poem inspired by all this. And the composer and I look at this poem and figure out what can we do to use these words to create a ballet. And he was kind of like…you know every art form has its strengths and weaknesses… what can we do to make it I guess, you know…our own, to create one work together that is with all these different parts that are strong on their own.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

CBK: Tell us more about the accessibility.
TS: Well, it’s all about accessibility. This is about cohesion. And this isn’t necessarily I wouldn’t say anything more than trying to use each other to create better work. I think conceptually on a level it is very strong, but it’s very much so about creating works that you would come and see and it wouldn’t be off putting. It would be reflective of who we all are as people, especially living in New York City.

CBK: Do you think you have to look for a new kind of audience because it’s a new kind of art form?
TS: I think it’s about joining different forms’ audiences together. Personally, the way I like to consume art, I like to go see concerts, I like to go see classical recitals, I like to go to museum exhibitions, but I also like to go to galleries. Hopefully this is a project that will kind of bring dance more into the lives of others. I mean, it’s a new kind of way for ballet, it’s actually a very old way for ballet to be operating, but it’s new again.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

BalletCollective assembles artists, poets, composers, choreographers, and designers to collaborate as equals, exchanging ideas to absorb each others’ influence throughout the creation of distinctive works of art. Founded by Troy Schumacher in 2010 and originally known as Satellite Ballet and Collective, BalletCollective has produced the collaborative work of 27 artists.

BalletCollective will be performing at The Joyce Theatre on Aug. 14 at 7:30pm & Aug. 15 at 8pm as part of the Ballet v6.0 festival: http://www.joyce.org/performances/ballet-v6-0/

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

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