Troy Schumacher is on a roll. The 31-year-old
was recently promoted to soloist after almost
12 years with New York City Ballet, but that’s
nothing compared to what he has going on this
month. Over the course of a few weeks he will
premiere three ballets of his own creation: his
third work for NYCB (Sept. 28), his first commission for Fall for Dance (Oct. 2–3), using dancers from Miami City Ballet, and another for the
ensemble he founded back in 2010, BalletCollective (Oct. 25), using colleagues from NYCB,
including his wife, Ashley Laracey. We spoke
with him just as he was gearing up for this
What is it like having these two commissions
in a row, plus planning for your own company’s
I’m loving being so busy, working on multiple
projects, all extremely different from each other.
It’s like when you’re dancing a lot of ballets at
once, and you’re warm, both physically and
mentally. You can get back into rehearsals and
performances much more easily.
Tell me about your Fall for Dance commission.
I’ve been wanting to work with dancers besides
my colleagues from City Ballet for a while. I was
always kind of secretly hoping Miami City Ballet
would be the first, because they exemplify a lot
of things that I like: musicality, athleticism and
For your Fall for Dance commission and your
new piece for City Ballet, you’ll be using pre-existing scores, by Francis Poulenc and William
Walton, respectively. What made you want to
use these pieces?
I’ve never choreographed professionally to
music that was composed before 2011. But
they’re both pieces I’ve been wanting to expand
upon for several years, since first working with
them at the New York Choreographic Institute.
I had a really strong reaction to the Poulenc
Concerto for Two Pianos when I first heard it; it
made me think of my childhood. The first movement is like recess and the second movement
is like those classes you have after recess when
you’re just daydreaming. The piece is really
bound up with a sense of nostalgia.
How about your new work for BalletCollec-
tive—what will your approach be this time
I’ve been finding, with everything that’s going
on in the country and in the world, that I’ve
been enjoying peaceful moments, like looking
out on a field or looking at a piece of art. So
I wanted to create something that was a little
more meditative than usual. I commissioned this
great singer and composer Julianna Barwick,
whose music is almost mantra-like. The whole
thing takes place inside an immersive projection
installation by Sergio Mora-Diaz. You can’t really
see the dancers’ faces, just their silhouettes; it’s
interesting how your impression changes when
the body becomes more abstracted. We’re
basing our ideas on the science fiction writer
Ken Liu, who wrote this amazing collection
called The Paper Menagerie and Other Sto-
ries. The whole season is organized around the
idea of translation.
With BalletCollective, you’ve developed a
creative process that involves in-depth
collaborations with young, cutting-edge
composers, visual artists and writers. What
excites you about this approach?
Every time I come out of one of these projects,
we learn something that we wouldn’t have
learned just working on our own. You give feedback to other art forms and other forms give
feedback to you.
For the first time, BalletCollective is commis-
sioning a work from another choreographer,
Gabrielle Lamb. How did that come about?
It’s always been in the back of my mind that I
wanted to share this process with more people.
It’s such a valuable learning tool to work closely
with a bunch of artists and composers. You’re
really creating something together. And I felt
that Gabrielle was the ideal candidate, because
she thinks a lot about her work, and she’s never
had the chance to commission a score before.
It really excites me that the organization is at a
point that we’re able to start doing that. ■
news | 10 MINUTES WITH...
Schumacher The choreographer is premiering three ballets in a span of four weeks. BY MARINA HARSS
Troy Schumacher rehearsing
his NYCB colleagues