If you’ve only seen Robert Fairchild displaying his elegant line in Peter Martins’ Romeo + Juliet, you might never guess that he started out as a tap and jazz baby. But watch the New York City Ballet soloist tear through a wickedly off-balance solo in Jorma Elo’s Slice to Sharp and you’ll see his jazz training shine through.
“Tap and jazz kept me entertained as a hyper little kid,” says Fairchild, who didn’t decide to pursue a career in ballet until he attended the School of American Ballet’s summer course at age 15. Today, ballet class is his base, but he takes jazz at Steps on Broadway as often as possible. “In jazz class, you move in a totally different way,” Fairchild explains. “With choreographers like Jorma Elo, the movement starts with ballet strength and positions—but when I go for the edgier effects he wants, that’s when jazz comes in handy.”