A Super Insider-y Look at Justin Peck's New Ballet

January 19, 2015

One of the many (many, many, many) reasons we love Justin Peck is that he collaborates with artists who are totally new to ballet. The 27-year-old New York City Ballet soloist, who was named the company’s resident choreographer last summer, is always on the lookout for people who might have something unexpected to contribute to the ballet world. For the past few years, his projects with indie music darling and ballet newbie Sufjan Stevens have been electrifying both dance and music audiences. And for his upcoming ballet Heatscape, which Miami City Ballet will premiere in March, Peck recruited another dance “outsider”: visual artist Shepard Fairey, best known for that iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster.

On Sunday night, the Guggenheim Museum’s always amazing Works & Process series took an up-close-and-personal look at Heatscape. Peck, Fairey and MCB director Lourdes Lopez talked about how the ballet came to be, and we saw several choreographic excerpts that left us hungry for more. Fairey’s eclectic, lively collages mesh well with Peck’s style; Peck is something of a masterful magpie himself. And oh goodness, those MCB dancers! We’d happily watch the elegant Patricia Delgado and laser-sharp Shimon Ito tie their shoes.

Peck (right) and MCB dancers in front of one of Fairey’s murals

The Works & Process discussion went really, really deep—you can watch the whole hour-and-a-half long program here, and it’s worth a watch. But to get a feel for the flavor of Heatscape in the space of two and a half minutes, take a look at this promotional video by Peck and Ezra Hurwitz. Its backdrop is Miami’s Wynwood Walls, the series of vibrant street murals that first inspired Peck to reach out to Fairey. Enjoy!