This interview appeared in the February 6 Pointe e-newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, click here.
Many ballet fans were surprised when longtime freelance star Drew Jacoby decided to join Nederlands Dans Theater last year. But she’ll be beamed back to U.S. audiences next month, when Emerging Pictures broadcasts an NDT program featuring a new full-length work by Crystal Pite in movie theaters nationwide. Pointe‘s e-news spoke to Jacoby about her overseas move and learning Pite’s choreography.
Crystal Pite is known as a storyteller. Does this new piece tell a story?
In a way, yes. It’s based on the idea of the known and unknown universe–the opposing forces within it, and what we can and can’t see. In the opening section, she plays with the rational and irrational parts of the brain, with majorettes to represent the rational side and clowns to represent the irrational side. Then, in the second part, there are dancers who are visible and shadow figures who are all in black. But I’m not doing it justice–she explains this all much better than I can.
The Emerging Pictures crew will be filming your opening-night show. How do you perform in a way that’s appropriate for both the audience in the theater and the broadcast audience?
Yeah, and it’s a world premiere, too! There’ll be plenty of pressure. I guess I should probably try not to grimace or make strange faces, in case they go in for close-ups. But I think because it’s such an epic evening and we all have so much responsibility, we’re not going to have time to think about the cameras. And the choreography is going to sell itself on film–It’s a natural program to broadcast, because of its theatricality, and because there’s so much going on.
Why did you decide to join NDT?
It wasn’t planned. It sort of fell in my lap, which was strange, since my whole career has been me seeking out opportunities and forging my own way. But I had a gut feeling about it. I knew if I didn’t try I’d always wonder. I’m still in a position where I want to learn, and that’s hard when you’re freelancing and working alone a lot. I also just wanted to focus on dancing. Freelancing was extremely fulfilling in one way, but I was spreading myself thin with the administrative work and the stress of it all; I was getting a little burned out. At NDT I can put all of my energy toward my art. And being around all these incredible dancers has made me hungry again. I feel at peace with the decision.