Photo credit: Hulu
Last July, Tiler Peck curated a weekend of dance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles called BalletNOW. Her journey as the first female to lead this program is chronicled in Hulu's new documentary, Ballet Now. Directed by Steve Cantor and produced by Elisabeth Moss, Ballet Now focuses on Peck's journey as she steps outside of her comfort zone into an artistic director role.
Thanks to Moss, who is a big champion of ballet, dance fans get to see a side of Peck they’ve never seen before. It’s an intimate look at a successful dancer who is ready to spread her wings beyond her role as a principal dancer at New York City Ballet.
"I wanted to possibly do some type of Livestream for BalletNOW, but it was Elisabeth, who came up with the idea of sharing the behind-the-scenes story," says Peck. "She's an incredible supporter of ballet. Her brilliant idea of storytelling added another layer to the entire week of BalletNOW."
The experience of curating, dancing, rehearsing and organizing the program was not an easy one. In fact, you feel the stress throughout the documentary. It was one part of taking on the job that Peck didn't expect.
"It was incredibly stressful. It was one of the biggest challenges of my career and I felt the pressure of succeeding — not only for myself, but also I knew I was the first woman in this position," she admits.
Peck had tremendous support from her family and her dog, Cali, during the chaotic week of filming and performing in BalletNOW. There are small, but important, moments in the film with her grandmother and mom, who helped guide her young dance career. They were the catalysts for getting Peck to where she is today, from making sure she had the best training available to those ever-important long car rides to those lessons.
"If there's one thing about the documentary I could change, I would make sure my family was featured more," Peck explains. "They have been such a huge part of my career and they were amazing in getting me through the week at the Music Center. I loved seeing them on-screen with me."
Dance fans will also get to see the lighter moments of the week with Peck from her hilarious interactions with vaudeville-style stage performer and Tony-winner Bill Irwin to the calming presence of tap sensation Michelle Dorrance, Peck thrives in their presence.
"I've known Michelle a long time and she really knew how to get me to focus when I was in rehearsal with her. Even though some of the rhythms in the piece were incredibly challenging, she always knew how to bring out the fun side of my personality, especially when I was stressed out," she laughs.
One of the most poignant parts of Ballet Now is the fact that viewers really get a taste of how Peck is influencing the next generation. The young dancers at Westside Ballet get the opportunity to see her rehearse the pas de deux from Carousel, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, with partner Zachary Catazaro. You notice right away how big of an impact this moment is having on them.
"I'm very aware of the generation that is coming up behind me in the ballet world. It's important for me to share what I know and also create a path for them as dancers and hopefully, as artistic directors," she says. "I want to make sure more women have opportunities in leading ballet companies in the future."
Despite being exhausted from all of the responsibility of executing BalletNOW from start to finish, Peck would do it all over again.
"I was tired and stressed, yet it's the project I am most proud of. I hope to do something similar again because there are so many ballets and pieces I want to share with dance audiences," she summed up. "It was really a dream come true."
Ballet Now premieres on Hulu on Friday, July 20.
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