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Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:29

24 Years of Dance: A Ballerina Story

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tiler Peck is living her dream. Principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, Peck will be performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this month. She is excited to share her hard work, and her story, with the community.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Peck started dancing at the age of 2 with her mother, a dance teacher. She originally was more interested in jazz, but her mother stressed the importance of practicing and studying ballet in order to become a well-rounded dancer. After being in commercials and on TV as a child, her turning point was playing Gracie in Broadway’s “Music Man” when she was 11. After that, she entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, when she was 12.

“I loved the way SAB teaches dance. It just seemed jazzier to me. I felt by studying here, I could get it all,” Peck said.

At 15, Peck became an apprentice with the NYC Ballet and the next year she joined the company as a member of the cour de ballet, where she was jokingly referred to as a “baby ballerina” because of her age. By 20, she worked her way up to principal dancer.

“As a principal dancer, we have to carry the entire ballet, so you can feel that weight at times. Our job is to set the standards so everyone else can rise to the occasion,” said Peck. “When the whole ballet is dependent on you, it’s a lot of pressure. We work very hard.”

The average day for Peck starts with a 10:30 a.m. class with the company and then from noon to 6 p.m., she rehearses for that evening’s show, which usually starts around 8 p.m. With around five evening shows each week, there is not much room for down time, but Peck has learned to pace herself.

“It’s important to find balance between rehearsal and the performance itself,” said Peck. “I feel the older you get, the more you learn that giving 110 percent isn’t always possible. You have to find the perfect balance.”

Although the work is hard, Peck finds happiness in loving what she does every day.

“’Theme of Variations’ is probably one of the hardest dances to perform, but I love it. I’m not afraid of it like other dancers are,” said Peck. She also loves being able to dance with her husband, principal dancer Robbie Fairchild, in Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” Fittingly, the dance they perform together is called “The Man I Love.”

Now 26, Peck has performed at SPAC with the NYC ballet for nearly a decade and really enjoys coming to Saratoga for the event.

“The best part is that you can tell the audience really looks forward to it. But also, it’s a fun getaway for us to come up here. It’s kind of like a little vacation,” Peck explains. “The company gets to live together, so we barbecue and hang out. We love the little town, all the eating places and shopping along Broadway.”

At SPAC, Peck can be seen in Justin Peck’s “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes,” Alexei Ratmansky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres,” and Balanchine classics like “Tarantella,” “Symphony in C” and “Symphony in Three Movements.”

The New York City Ballet will be at SPAC from July 7 to 18. Tickets are available at SPAC.org. 

 

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