Congratulations on receiving a commission
from Vail! How did that happen?
I met Damian Woetzel in 2006 at Harvard, when
he was at the Kennedy School and his wife,
Heather Watts, was my dance professor. Heather
came to a dress rehearsal of some of my early
choreography and told Damian about it. I’ve been
close with them since. Last year, I helped out with
the program book for the festival. So when he
told me he wanted me to do something in Vail
this summer I thought, Okay, I can take over the
program book. My jaw dropped when he said he
was thinking of a duet or something larger.
What are you creating for the premiere?
Right now I am rehearsing with four dancers, three
of whom Damian has invited as guest artists (Joseph
Gordon, Unity Phelan and Zachary Catazaro of New
York City Ballet) and Da’ Von Doane (Dance Theatre
of Harlem), whom I’ve worked with before. The
quartet will be eight minutes, with two movements
danced to two different piano concertos from Russian
composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Alfred Schnittke.
What does it feel like to be featured on such a
Everything feels new and exciting for me and
I don’t want to lose that feeling. After winning Breaking Glass, suddenly my work, which
originally was just a passion project I couldn’t let
go of, turned into something bigger than I could
have ever envisioned. There is a certain pressure
as a ballet choreographer because there is such
a push towards new movement, and always the
question of “How are you going to transform the
face of dance?” But I don’t think I should try to
answer that right now. I just want to make my kind
How will you use your NYU fellowship next
I will have the rare opportunity of a lab where the
only expectation is an informal studio showing,
so I left the proposal open-ended. But I do feel
strongly in having an end goal, and I plan to commission new music from living composers, including Dutch composer Douwe Eisenga.
How are these new opportunities changing
Since 2009, I’ve worked full-time at Alvin Ailey in
the marketing department, and I will be leaving
at the end of this year to take on the fellowship. It
has required a lot of time management. I wake up
very early and choreograph before going in to the
office. As soon as I leave, I’m running to rehearsal.
I’ve used all my vacation days to do commissions
and present work. When I got this fellowship the
decision was made for me—it states I am not allowed to work anywhere else—otherwise I would
have probably tried.
How will you pay your bills?
I will have a $35,000 stipend, and will be using
some of it to pay the dancers and musicians. After
that, I have a small amount saved, but I’m just
taking a giant leap. I have these panic moments,
because it has been a long time since I have
lived paycheck to paycheck, but it is immediately
followed by the euphoria of getting to do what I
want to do. n
news | 10 MINUTES WITH...
BY CANDICE THOMPSON
Claudia Schreier has burst onto the ballet scene
seemingly out of nowhere. She graduated from
Harvard University with a passion for making ballets and, since winning the Breaking Glass Project
in 2014, the freelance choreographer has been
enjoying an accelerated and atypical career trajectory. She is the latest recipient of the Virginia
B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New
York University, which she will start in the spring.
In the meantime, audiences can sample her latest
visually layered, neoclassical work on August 8
in the Vail International Dance Festival’s NOW:
Premieres evening, among big names such as
Matthew Neenan, Lil Buck and Jodi Melnick.
Schreier rehearsing with
Ballet Academy East