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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Taylor Stanley

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Taylor Stanley
Taylor Stanley

Today's subject Taylor Stanley is living his theatre life as a company member of New York City Ballet (NYCB), one of the most famous and prestigious ballet companies in the country. With repertoire works that feature choreography by such greats as George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, it's easy to understand why the company has that status. NYCB begins a one week engagement at the Kennedy Center's Opera House on June 6. The two programs will feature the works of George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, and the DC premiere of a work by Alexei Ratmansky.

Taylor was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began his dance training at the age of three at The Rock School in Pennsylvania. He attended summer programs at Miami City Ballet in 2006 and 2007 and at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, during the summer of 2008 before enrolling full-time at SAB in the fall of that same year. In September 2009, He became an apprentice with NYCB, and joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. He was promoted to soloist in February 2013 and to principal dancer in May 2016.

Here is a young dancer who worked his way up the ranks with NYCB and is now dancing principal roles by some of the world's top choreographers. Sometimes everything aligns early in one's career and you find a lifetime artistic home. It looks like Taylor has done that with NYCB and if you choose to see one of their programs next week you'll understand why Taylor made that very smart career choice.

For some really fine ballet, please consider checking out New York City Ballet next week at the Kennedy Center. With choreography by George Balanchine and others, you can't go wrong. With a dynamic dancer like Taylor Stanley in the company the reasons to attend just get better and better.

What was the first ballet you saw as a child and was that the moment you knew you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I saw my first ballet around age 3 or 4. It was Sleeping Beauty in Westchester, PA. I knew then it was something I was drawn to, but did not get serious about doing it professionally until around age 13 or 14. Up until then it was just fun.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Taylor Stanley
Taylor Stanley and company in Justin Peck's Rodeo. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

What was your first professional gig as a dancer?

New York City Ballet's 2010 tour to Hong Kong.

Of all the ballet companies in the country to choose from, why did you choose NYCB?

I went to a summer program in Miami for two years. Heard about SAB (NYCB's training school) and got acquainted with the company and its repertoire through that. The versatility of rep and the aesthetic of the company is based on Russian technique, but still has a freedom to it. With those features and others, I knew I could fit in there. I felt like I could achieve being a well-rounded dancer working with them.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Taylor Stanley
Tiler Peck and Taylor Stanley in Alexei Ratmansky's Odessa. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

NYCB is presenting two programs during its engagement at Kennedy Center. Can you please tell us a little bit about what audiences will see?

The first program is a George Balanchine ballet called Square Dance, Alexei Ratmansky's Odessa, Justin Peck's Rodeo, and Balanchine's Tarantella, which I am performing in. Second one is Christopher Wheeldon's Rhapsody in Blue (my first time performing in that one), Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, and Justin Peck's TheTimes are Racing, which I also perform in.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Taylor Stanley
L-R Taylor Stanley and Ashly Issacs in Justin Peck's The Times are Racing. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Besides being onstage, have you choreographed for NYCB or elsewhere?

I never have choreographed, but I would like to explore it. There s a hesitation, but getting into a studio and doing it would take care of my fear. Maybe someday...

Many ballet dancers at one point or another have either danced on Broadway or at least in a production of a Broadway musical. Have you danced in any Broadway musicals? If not, are there any you would like to perform in someday? Please explain your choices.

Nope, just in high school. I have fantasies about Hair. That's a big favorite. Chicago, but that is a fantasy and, of course, West Side Story. If I had the vocal chops I would want to be a part of The Color Purple.

Since joining NYCB, what are some of your favorite roles?

Opus Jazz because dancing in sneakers is very comfortable. Square Dance is definitely one. Classically it would be Jewels, dancing the "Emerald Pas De Trois," and dancing anything by Ratmansky.

Special thanks to Kennedy Center's dance publicist Brittany Laeger and New york City Ballet's 's publicist Katharina Plumb for their duel assistance in coordinating this interview.

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