After a brief summer hiatus, we got back into the studio and conducted a Skype interview with Houston Ballet’s Harper Watters. Harper has made a name for himself on social media with comedic videos and brand partnerships, as well as a web series of his own creation. We spoke to him about the importance (personal and professional!) of being completely oneself, what it means to represent ballet, and how dancers can seek opportunities beyond the company structure through social media and proactive exploration of their individual interests. The message that emerged was an empowering one of escaping rigid stereotypes through individuality. We will be sure to post on social media when Harper’s upcoming documentary, Danseur, is available for viewing!
Harper Watters is a Soloist with the Houston Ballet, one of the top 5 largest professional ballet companies in the US. In 2011 he won the prestigious Prix De Lausanne and in 2015 he won the Princess Grace Award for Dance Achievement. He’s worked with leading choreographers such as George Balanchine, Wayne McGregor, William Forsythe and Tony award winner Christopher Wheeldon. He’s accumulated over 143 thousand followers on Instagram and created the web series ’The Pre Show’ which highlights the behind the scenes stage life of professional dancers on his YouTube channel. His videos have been featured on numerous media outlets, and his social media presence has allowed him to work with photographers such as Mike Ruiz, Gerardo Vizmanos, and Ryan Pfluger for the New Yorker. He’s been featured in the pages of fashion magazine, ‘Risk Magazine,’ ‘Dance Magazine,’ and ‘Pointe Magazine,’ and he has even graced the cover of DanceSpirit’s February 2018 issue. You may also have seen him in his viral videos in heels on a treadmill as well. Harper will be featured in the forthcoming documentary, Danseur, which explores why there are so few males in dance and sheds light on the difficult subjects of bullying and homophobia while illustrating the vitality of ballet.
Jessica and Clara interviewed Tiler Peck leading up to the premier of her new documentary, BalletNow, which will be available for streaming on Hulu on Friday, July 20th. The film, directed by Steven Cantor (who directed Sergei Polunin’s DANCER) and produced by Elisabeth Moss, shows Tiler assume many roles as curator, artistic director, rehearsal director and dancer in preparation for a performance at the Music Center in Los Angeles last July. In the interview, Tiler revealed what it was like rising to the greatest challenge of her life in preparing for a production that included 15 ballets in three programs, all while dancing in eight pieces. Tiler spoke about her curatorial rationale for the performance, which featured choreographers Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon, Michelle Dorrance, Bill Irwin, and more. Beyond BalletNow, we talked about Tiler’s enthusiasm for stepping into a new role as choreographer this summer at Vail Dance Festival, how leadership at City Ballet is developing after the departure of Peter Martins, and how she has become known as “the ballerina who stops time.”
More about Tiler Peck:
Tiler Peck was born in Bakersfield, California. She began her dance training at the age of two at her mother’s dance studio, Bakersfield Dance Company. At the age of seven, she began studying privately with former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Alla Khaniashvili in Hollywood. At the age of 11 she began studying at Conjunctive Point in Culver City, California, with former New York City Ballet dancers Colleen and Patricia Neary. During this time she also studied with former NYCB principal Yvonne Mounsey at Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica. At the age of 12, Ms. Peck entered the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, for most of the 2000-2001 Winter Term. She returned to SAB during the summers of 2002 and 2003, and that fall began as a full-time student. In September 2004, Ms. Peck became an apprentice with New York City Ballet. In February 2005 she joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. She was promoted to soloist in December 2006 and principal dancer in October 2009.
In this episode, Clara sits down with Rina Saltzman, Company Manager on Broadway and former Company Manager for American Ballet Theater. We learn about what a Company Manager does, how the inner workings and funding structures of the ballet world contrast with Broadway, and how we might see more in-depth mixing of the two going forward. It was great to hear that business is booming on Broadway! Rina’s current show, Pretty Woman, will have its New York preview on July 20th and open officially on August 16th!!
Rina L. Saltzman has been a Company Manager on tour and on Broadway since 1986. After 6 seasons with the American Ballet Theatre, she went on to manage tours of CATS, SUNSET BOULEVARD, RAGTIME, FOSSE, MAMMA MIA! , BILLY ELLIOT and BEAUTIFUL THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL, visiting over 150 cities in the US and Canada. She was honored by the Broadway League in 2017 when she was given the George MacPherson Road Award. On Broadway, she has managed MAMMA MIA!, CHICAGO and WAR PAINT.
In 2015, she had the honor of managing AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, the first Broadway show to do a pre-Broadway try-out in Paris, France.
Currently the Associate General Manager of the upcoming Broadway musical, PRETTY WOMAN, Rina is a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM) and sits on its Board of Governors.
In this episode, Clara connects with fellow Minnesotan dancer Christopher LaPlante. We learn about Chris’ experience independently navigating the dance world, guided by his innate passion for dance. He talks about growing up in competition school, discovering break dance in his early 20s, and the magical way in which he achieved his dream of dancing with TU Dance (with former PDD guest Uri Sands!). Chris also expresses his philosophies of seeking intention in choreographic works, and bringing dance to public spaces where it can be seen by people who may not otherwise engage with the art form. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did.(more…)
In this episode, Jessica and Clara interviewed dancer Paul Hamilton about his experience collaborating with a diverse range of choreographers including Alonzo King, Elizabeth Streb, Reggie Wilson, Ralph Lemon and Keely Garfield. He shared a bit about each choreographer’s style and process and talked about his own journey of discovering and re-discovering dance as his passion and joy. He also let us in on some of the fascinating dramaturgical processes behind Reggie Wilson / Fist and Heel Performance Group’s production of Moses(es), and Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room (from which the above image derived).
Soul Train was one of the influences behind Paul’s Bessie-nominated performance of Scaffold Room. Enjoy this video homage to Soul Train!(more…)
In this interview with Andrea Miller, recorded at the Brooklyn home of GALLIM Dance, we dig deep into Andrea’s unique choreographic process and discuss her current residency at the Met Breuer. Andrea describes the way in which she and her dancers develop a distinct movement language for each new piece, and she shares a fascinating example of a piece for which they drew inspiration from prehistoric, non-human movement. We also touch on the historical-cultural significance of Andrea’s 2017-18 residency at the Met as a sign of dance being recognized as an art form in its own right. Finally, Andrea speaks to the experience and personal importance of building a family without interrupting her dance career. Andrea will premiere a new durational work at the Met Breuer this month, May 22–27, 2018. If you’re in New York, don’t miss it!(more…)
In this episode we talk to Caitlin Trainor, the Founder and Creator of Dancio. Dancio is a platform that provides online dance classes with some of the best teachers in the world. Starting from the need for a simple warm-up tool, Caitlin created a platform with the potential to bring top-notch training to dancers in geographies with limited access, allow new professional dancers to keep up with class without breaking their bank, and even bring the healing power of dance to people around the world who, without formal training, may be shy about walking into a class. After this conversation, we can truly see, as Caitlin does, Dancio’s potential to affect us as individuals and as a society.
Dancio was recently written up inPointe magazine. Still in its early stages, there are 4 ballet classes available, with teachers Julie Kent, Carlos Lopez, Craig Hall and Lauren King. You can sign up here for a free barre with Julie Kent!!
Named as one of the “25 to Watch” in 2016 by Dance Magazine, Caitlin herself is a choreographer, performer and the artistic director of Trainor Dance. She is also a member of the faculty at Barnard College/Columbia University.