Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the Artist Monday: Troy Schumacher

Photo: Henry Leutwyler
As a prominent dance critic characterized Troy Schumacher’s work, “Everything is alive, everything breathes, everything is now.” Inspired by historic ballet, music and art collaborative efforts, Schumacher has created BalletCollective as a twenty-first century model. Its mission is to present ballet-based work in an intimate setting with live music that represents contributions from the choreographer, dancers, musicians and artists who engage in an ongoing give and take process. Schumacher’s vision originated with BalletCollective’s predecessor in 2010, Satellite Ballet, and resulted in the production of three ballets, including “Epistasis” and “Warehouse under the Hudson.” In addition to founding and directing BalletCollaborative and Satellite Ballet, Schumacher has created original works for the Atlanta Ballet’s trainee program, the 92nd Street Y Fridays at Noon series and an interdisciplinary duet for a New York City Ballet principal and a Metropolitan Opera countertenor. The New York Choreographic Institute offered Schumacher a residency for its Fall 2012 workshop, during which he created a ballet to William Walton, as did the School of American Ballet, during which he created a ballet to Poulenc.

Here is my Q and A with Troy:

Me: What does BalletCollective mean to you?
    Troy: BalletCollective is a venue for artists to collaborate as equals.  It’s an opportunity for me, as a developing choreographer, to work with other artists across genres to be influenced and influence others.  On the other hand, it’s an amazing opportunity for me to learn how to run a non-profit organization from the ground up. It’s a fascinating learning experience that puts me in touch with the amazing people that make ballet possible.

    What do you enjoy about working with your collaborators?

    Every time I participate in this process, it’s life changing and makes me think differently about both ballet and the other art forms that go into making our ballets possible.  This season had an even greater effect on me.  Working with Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Cynthia Zarin and Brandon Baker over the past nine months has been an amazing experience and I’m honored that they’ve devoted an amount of energy above and beyond what I expected. 

    What inspires you to choreograph?

    So many things! But, above all, you can’t have a ballet without dancers. I’m so fortunate to be working with such an amazing group of dancers.  Each of them is individual and strong, both as people and dancers.  I’m very inspired by them and I owe so much to the hard work and hours they put into making BalletCollective possible! I strive to make them all look more like themselves and to give them each movements that make us all understand them more. 

    After a hard day of choreographing, what is your favorite meal?
      I love to cook.  It’s an amazing way to unwind-- chopping vegetables.  But I can’t always commit to a full meal after six hours in the studio, so lately I’ve been settling for just salad dressing and Seamless Web.  

      Your most memorable onstage moment?
        I would say, bowing after our first [BalletCollective] performances as Satellite Ballet in NYC.  It was such a huge accomplishment to start a non-profit and present a performance in New York that, when the show ended, I was overcome with emotion, which was something I hadn’t experienced at that level before.

        What's your favorite way to pass time?
          There’s something very meditative about sitting down at the piano.  It’s just me and this amazing instrument, and it takes a lot of focus, which clears my mind.

          What are you reading?
            I wish I had the time right now. A book that I recently read and loved was Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve.

            What's the most recent song/album you've downloaded?
              The past few months, I’ve been in real focus mode, listening mostly to the music I’ve been choreographing to. But, last week I indulged with a little Robin Thicke, Daft Punk, and Hunter Hayes.

              If you could die and come back as an animal, what would you be?
                I would love to be a hawk. These are creatures that instantly mesmerize me: to be able to fly so effortlessly. If that wasn’t an option, I’d opt for shark, mainly so I wouldn’t be so scared in the ocean!

                Your greatest influence?
                  Ah! So many. But, I really can’t ignore Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, for inspiring me to continue dancing.  

                  Anything else you'd like people to know about you...
                    I love to paint. 

                    Troy has been working on BalletCollective's 2013 New York season for the past nine plus months. While dancing at New York City Ballet he often is wearing multiple hats: director, choreographer, collaborator, dancer, fundraiser, secretary, etc. to make this non-profit ballet company thrive. I don't know how he does it!

                    Troy is so excited to see his hard work and dedication unfold onto the Joyce stage next Wednesday (and Thursday)! As a dancer in his company, and also his fiancée, the butterflies are building as we are only 2 days away until the big day! I hope we make him proud!

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