Reverence: She's Got Rhythm

New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck radiates charm, musicality and brio.
Published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue.

A captivating coquette in Robbins' "Other Dances." Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Growing up, you had a lot of jazz training. How has that helped you?
I wouldn’t have changed the route I took for anything. Dancers who only do ballet learn the correct positions, but not how to dance. I learned how to perform from the beginning. Also, I think Balanchine technique, with its intricate musicality, is actually closely related to jazz.

Do you feel differently onstage now than when you first began at NYCB?
As I got more chances to dance ballets like Who Cares?, I started to feel a sense of freedom, because there wasn’t the pressure of, “This is my only shot!” And that’s when you really open up.

What do you like to do on your days off?

I have the most beautiful little maltipoo named Cali, as in California, who I love to take on long walks. She is the smartest ever—she can do a pirouette, and she’ll high-five you!

Your boyfriend, NYCB principal Robert Fairchild, also has a dog, Griz. How does he get along with Cali?
So, so well! We joke that they’re dating too. Robbie and I were both traveling a lot over the summer, and when we came back to New York, I think Cali was more excited to see Griz than to see me!

Is there anything about your body you’d change?

I always wish I were taller and had long legs like Maria Kowroski. I like the rep the tall girls get to do—all the pretty, lyrical parts.

Do you have any pointe shoe rituals?
I’m crazy. First, I bang the heck out of them, because it drives me nuts when you can hear a ballerina tapping around the stage—it takes away her mysterious quality. So I go to town on mine. I also pick out a new pair for each show the night before. It takes me at least 30 minutes because I’m very, very particular. People know not to bother me while I’m choosing my shoes.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?

I saw Alina Cojocaru do Nikiya in La Bayadère this past season, and I couldn’t get over the way she used her feet. It was like they were speaking. I also like fearless dancers. I’ve seen other companies do Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and if they don’t really go for it in that dramatic fish dive at the end, it’s like—what’s the point? The audience wants to see something extraordinary!

What would you take with you to a desert island?
I could do without stuff, but I’d need people—my boyfriend, my family. And my dog, of course.