Justin Peck's Gender-Neutral Ballet Casting Is Brilliant

September 26, 2017

If you’re a ballet person, your feeds are probably full of gorgeous previews of Justin Peck’s new work for New York City Ballet, set to premiere tomorrow night. Excited as we are about that, though, we’re almost more excited that Peck’s The Times Are Racingwhich NYCB debuted in January—is returning to the stage this fall.

Why? Well, firstly, we can’t get enough of its powerful, infectious energy (or its fabulous costumes by Opening Ceremony). But we also love, love, love the way Peck has been experimenting with gender-blind casting in the piece.

In the first performance of The Times Are Racing, Peck himself danced a thrilling tap-inspired duet with Robert Fairchild, giving us all kinds of West Side Story vibes. (You can see most of it in this trailer video.) Later that month, Peck cast a woman and a man, Ashly Isaacs and Taylor Stanley, in the same duet. The new pair revealed an entirely different—and equally mesmerizing—dynamic.

This season, Peck’s mixing things up again. On October 12, the ballet’s central pas de deux, first danced by girl-guy pair Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar, will be performed by two men, Taylor Stanley and Daniel Applebaum. Peck just posted a clip of the two navigating the intricate partnering, and it looks AMAZING.

“A major part of #TheTimesAreRacing has been an exploration of gender neutrality…to see how far we can push equality amongst the sexes through the lens of ballet,” Peck says in the caption. “It’s been very special to collaborate and monitor this new pulse of the duet…to witness how the dynamics and counterbalance of Daniel Applebaum (@dapplebaum) and Taylor Stanley (@t_stanley) can shift the impact and meaning of the choreography.”

Slow. Clap. 👏