Valentine’s Day Special — An Interview With New York City Ballet Principal and star of Romeo And Juliet, Tiler Peck

by Michael Mahany | 2/13/2018 6:12 PM

Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro in New York City Ballet’s Romeo And Juliet. Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik.


If you’re still looking for some great Valentine’s Day plans, you need to look no further than New York City Ballet’s current production of Romeo And Juliet.


This production of R&J— the third incarnation of the former NYCB Ballet Master-In-Chief Peter Martins’ version— stars a rotating cast of some of the biggest and brightest names at City Ballet; including fan favorite, principal dancer Tiler Peck, who’s danced the role of Juliet in all three of NYCB’s manifestations .


City Ballet fans, over the course of the two week run at the David H. Koch Theatre, will also have the opportunity to see other company darlings like Sterling Hyltin (who originated the role of Juliet in the original 2007 production, and danced it again in 2015), Erica Pereira, Lauren Lovette, Indiana Woodward, Harrison Coll, Zachary Catazaro, Chase Finlay, Peter Walker, and Taylor Stanley starring in the roles of the star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Indiana Woodward, Harrison Coll, Peter Walker will all be making their debuts in their respective leading roles.


MORE: See Dance Network’s Interview With Lauren Lovette At The New York City Ballet’s 2017 Fall Fashion Gala


According to City Ballet, after The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet is, perhaps, the most choreographed ballet over the last 60 years. With music by Sergei Prokofiev, this version of the ballet is streamlined into two acts instead of the usual three.


Tiler Peck in Romeo And Juliet. Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik.


This week, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day and the opening of R&J, Dance Network was able to catch up with admired and esteemed New York City Ballet superstar, Tiler Peck. Peck, who’s been dancing with NYCB since she joined the Corps in 2005, grew up in Bakersfield, California. Before she began her study at the School Of American Ballet—New York City Ballet’s official school— she danced on Broadway in the 2001 revival of The Music Man. At City Ballet, Peck was quickly promoted to soloist in 2006 and ultimately a principal dancer in 2009.


Tiler told us all about her tenure at New York City Ballet, what it was like dancing with Broadway’s Susan Stroman, and of course, what dance fans can expect to see when they come to see Romeo and Juliet.



Check out the full interview below:


Dance Network: Thanks for chatting with us, Tiler! Congratulations on the role (again!)— we know you’re going to be on for Juliet on Valentine’s Day, so we’re super excited for all those V-day date-nighters who will get to see you. Now, before we get to Romeo And Juliet specifically— you’ve been dancing with NYCB since you joined the Corps in 2005, so, what’s it been like to spend so much of your career with such a distinct artistic institution?


Tiler Peck: It’s incredible. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I am a principal dancer with New York City Ballet! There are days when I walk to work and take a moment to look at our theater and think how lucky I am to be a part of this amazing company and dancing every night at Lincoln Center. It is also very special when I think of how many former dancers and idols have danced in the same rehearsal rooms and shared the same stage. The theater has seen some remarkable dancers over the years.


Tiler Peck. Photo Credit: NYC Dance Project


DN: Since we have a lot of theatre dance fans over here at Dance Network— You worked with the great Susan Stroman on Broadway in The Music Man and on Little Dancer at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Can you tell us a little about your time working with Stro— and, a little about when your went back to Broadway in Josh Bergasse’s On The Town?


TP: Stro is one of a kind. She knows exactly how to run a room and is greatly respected by anyone who works with her because of her talent, passion, and kindness. I met her when I was eleven during The Music Man and she has been a part of my life and career ever since. She actually is the reason I started studying ballet seriously at the School of American Ballet. Susan told me I should try to find a place to train during the days because it is really easy to lose your technique when in a Broadway show, doing the same show every night.  She wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me at such a young age. So it was then, during The Music Man, that I discovered the School of American Ballet and fell in love with ballet.


Little Dancer is probably one of the closest projects to my heart. I have been a part of the show since the very beginning of its development and it feels, in a way, like the show was tailor-made for me. I believe it is an exceptional show that brings together so many art forms, and I’m looking forward to its future.


The role of Ivy was actually created on me in On The Town.  It was unfortunate that its Broadway opening and the DC opening of Little Dancer ended up being at the same time. I decided to originate Marie in Little Dancer at the Kennedy Center but was so grateful when the producers of On The Town brought me in to do two weeks during its run. In a way, I felt like I got the best of both worlds by having the opportunity to perform both.



DN: So, what would you say ballet fans (and those Valentine’s Day daters) can expect when they come see you and all your fellow City Ballet stars shine in Romeo and Juliet?

TP: Honestly, there isn’t a more romantic, and at the same time tragic, love story than Romeo and Juliet, and I am so excited to be dancing it on Valentine’s Day. I just love playing Juliet and getting to experience all of her different emotions. It feels like the first time every time and it is such a treasured role for a ballerina to dance. I am very lucky to be dancing it with my amazing partner Zachary Catazaro. What I feel is special about our cast is that, for both of us, the most important part is diving into the character and telling the story. The steps become secondary.


DN: The role of Juliet— it’s not your first time playing it. In the past you’ve described some of the choreography as exciting and scary all at the same time, so tell us, how is it different this time for you? And, how do you hang on to the scariness” and excitement” of the character?


TP: When I first debuted as Juliet, I was closer to her actual age, but I feel I can play her more honestly at this time in my career. As you grow as an artist, there are nuances and feelings that take time and maturity to learn. Now I think I’m better able to show the contrast in her— both the young love and then the darkness.


Read: NYCB Principal Dancer Tiler Peck Is Ready To Present BalletNow To A Hometown Crowd


Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro. Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik.


DN: And lastly, before we let you go, you’re a role model to so many young dancers out there— any gems of wisdom that you can pass along to that next generation?


TP: Enjoy every moment. A career goes by so fast and it’s important to always remind yourself why you love to dance… and also, to take a second to let those memories sink in. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love for a living and hopefully that carries over and shows in my dancing.



DN: Ok.. one more, a little Valentine’s Day BONUS Question: Who’s your favorite Romeo?


TP: My favorite Romeo is my Romeo at the moment, Zachary Catazaro, because we are in it together and have to be so in tune with one another.  (Laughing) Buuut, if I could add anyone else to the list it would be Tom Brady, Jake Gyllenhaal, or Josh Duhamel.



Special thanks to Tiler Peck for taking some time out to chat with us. For more information or tickets to New York City Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet, playing now though February 23rd at Lincoln Center, check out City Ballet’s website here.