The ballet world’s leadership might be ‘male dominated,’ but NYC Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck explained at the 2018 GenNext Awards how ballerinas can become leaders too, and she’s proof that it’s possible.
Tiler Peck, 29, a principal dancer for New York City Ballet, had a clear message at the Hollywood Life, She Runs It and Forbes’ 2018 GenNext Awards in New York City on Sept. 13. Ballerinas can be leaders in a world that has long been dominated by male choreographers and directors! She’s living proof, as the first woman The LA Music Center has ever asked to curate its annual BalletNOW program. As the curator of the program, Tiler chose all the dancers from a variety of genres — ballet, tap, hip hop — which were seen over three nights this past July at The LA Music Center. She even inspired acclaimed actress Elisabeth Moss to produce a documentary, Ballet Now, available on Hulu, which followed Tiler as she directed the Los Angeles program and danced in most of the performances. And now, the renowned ballerina shared inspiring words for other dancers at this year’s GenNext Awards, which honored women under the age of 35 who have already made outstanding achievements in their fields. “I think I put a lot of pressure on myself because I not only wanted it to be a success for myself, but I wanted to encourage women to take that next step and think of themselves in a leadership position role where they might not normally think so,” she shared with HollywoodLife on the pink carpet.
Tiler then explained why ballerinas may not expect their industry to hand over leadership roles. “In the ballet world, the ballerina really is held on a pedestal. It’s like the directors and teachers are male dominated,” Tiler pointed out. In a study conducted during the 2012-13 season, only 25 women choreographed the 290 staged ballets put on by companies with budgets higher than $5 million, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I just think we never think of ourselves to be the director. So, doing BalletNOW definitely gave me that bug a little bit. I always knew I had it in me, my personality and I know how to pick young talent,” Tiler added. BalletNOW spanned three nights of performances, featuring 24 dancers that Tiler handpicked. She continues, “And I love to share my knowledge of what I know with them and help them grow, but it took something like Ballet Now being a success for me to think…OK, I know I can run a company and I think i could do it really well.”
When asked how to remove the stigma of women supposedly getting emotional in positions of power, Tiler pointed out a special talent that women tend to have. “What the director always said to me was like — The one thing your’e so amazing about is compartmentalizing and making sure that whatever problem came to you, you gave that person the attention at that moment,” Tiler revealed. “I think that’s what women are really good at – doing a million things that maybe men are not necessarily so great at. So people think we might be more emotional, but there’s a lot of other things we bring to the table.”
The GenNext Awards honorees later moved on from the pink carpet and onto the panel. Speaking to the audience, Tiler described how monumental her role as a curator for BalletNOW really was. “It was a very big deal. It was at a theater the size of The New York City Ballet stage, which is like 3000 people and I was basically given free reign for everything,” Tiler shared with the attendees. “I got to pick which ballets we did, the dancers, I got to meet two dancers who were my favorites from, I think, all over the world from Paris and the Royal Ballet in London, because I really wanted to educate the audience and show them what I think ballet means because I think as a term, it’s very pigeonholed and everybody thinks ‘Oh, it just means a tutu and a tiara.'”