How to do the peck dance

Artists at the Center | Tiler Peck


Award-winning New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck tackles a new role as the inaugural artist curator in our Artists at the Center series. With complete freedom to design her own evening, Peck has assembled some of today’s most exciting dance artists for a virtuosic, deeply personal program.

The evening begins with the New York premiere of Peck’s own Thousandth Orange, set to live music by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw. Peck sought out West Coast legend Alonzo King to create the electric pas de deux Swift Arrow, and joins forces with her longtime friend (and tap dance star) Michelle Dorrance alongside Jillian Meyers on a world premiere City Center commission. The program closes with The Barre Project, Blake Works II, the live world premiere of a piece originally created for film that marked the first creative partnership between Peck and choreographer William Forsythe.

Featuring performances by:
Isabella Boylston, India Bradley, Chun Wai Chan, Herman Cornejo, Michelle Dorrance, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant, Lex Ishimoto, Lauren Lovette, Brooklyn Mack, Roman Mejia, Jillian Meyers, Tiler Peck, Byron Tittle, and Cassandra Trenary

Vaccinations, Boosters (for those eligible) & Masks Required

To ensure the health and safety of everyone, at this time City Center will operate a fully vaccinated venue. Artists, crew, staff, and audience members (adults and children) must provide proof of full Covid-19 vaccination and proof of receiving a Covid-19 booster, for all those eligible. Approved masks must be worn by all audience members, staff, and crew.

To help you buy with confidence, please review our latest health, safety, and ticket policies.


Interested in VIP seats? Join the President’s Council starting at $2,500 and receive access to premium seats and other special benefits throughout the season. Please call 212.763.1257 or email [email protected] for more information.


Programming subject to change.

The Program

Choreography by Tiler Peck
Music by Caroline Shaw
Featuring Isabella Boylston, India Bradley, Herman Cornejo, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant, and Lauren Lovette
Accompanied by Bergamot Quartet (Ledah Finck and Sarah Thomas, violin; Amy Tan viola; Irène Han, cello) and Chelsea de Souza (piano)

Choreography by Alonzo King
Music by Jason Moran
Featuring Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia
Accompanied by Sequoia Snyder on piano

Choreography by Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Meyers, and Tiler Peck in conjunction with the dancers
Associate Choreographer Byron Tittle
Featuring India Bradley, Michelle Dorrance, Christopher Grant, Lex Ishimoto, Lauren Lovette, Roman Mejia, Jillian Meyers, Tiler Peck, Chun Wai Chan, Byron Tittle, and Cassandra Trenary
Original Music by Aaron Marcellus and Penelope Wendtlandt

Choreography by William Forsythe
Music by James Blake
Featuring Lex Ishimoto, Brooklyn Mack, Roman Mejia, and Tiler Peck


Photos & Videos

Tiler Peck; photo by Geovanny Santillan and CLI Studios

The Barre Project, Blake Works II

Lex Ishimoto, Brooklyn Mack, Roman Mejia & Tiler Peck; photo by Geovanny Santillan and CLI Studios

The Barre Project, Blake Works II

Isabella Boylston, India Bradley, Herman Cornejo, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant & Lauren Lovette; photo by Christopher Duggan

Thousandth Orange

Isabella Boylston, India Bradley, Herman Cornejo, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant & Lauren Lovette; photo by Christopher Duggan

Thousandth Orange

Tiler Peck & Roman Mejia; photo by Christopher Duggan

Swift Arrow

Tiler Peck & Roman Mejia; photo by Christopher Duggan

Swift Arrow

Point of View

Your Support Makes This Possible

Your Support Makes This Possible

This brand-new series would not be possible without the support of our generous community. If you are able, we hope you will consider making a gift to help provide opportunities for the world’s greatest artists to conceive, curate, and perform these once-in-a-lifetime programs for our stage.

Donation Amount


Leadership Support is provided by
Lynne and Richard Pasculano Fund for Programming and Education

Major Support for dance at New York City Center is provided by

Barbara and David Zalaznick

Support for new dance works at New York City Center is provided by
Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Additional Support for Artists at the Center is provided by
Susan and Jeff Campbell
Judith M. Hoffman
Virginia and Timothy Millhiser
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Saul
Irene Shen
Denise R. Sobel

We are grateful to the Charina Endowment Fund for its early support of Artists at the Center.

Header photo: NYC Dance Project

'West Side Story' choreographer Justin Peck explains the film's dances : NPR

'West Side Story' choreographer Justin Peck explains the film's dances Six decades after the film West Side Story premiered, the legendary musical has been reimagined. Choreographer Justin Peck updated the dances of the original story.


Heard on Morning Edition

How choreographer Justin Peck helped reimagine 'West Side Story' for the 21st century

Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo Niko Tavernise/© 2021 20th Century Studios. hide caption

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Niko Tavernise/© 2021 20th Century Studios.

Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo

Niko Tavernise/© 2021 20th Century Studios.

It takes some nerve to tackle a beloved artistic creation and make changes for new audiences. It's kind of like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa (which was in fact done, by dada-ist Marcel Duchamp in 1919, to much public amazement). But that's exactly what's been done with West Side Story: 64 years after its Broadway opening, and 60 years after its film version, some of the brightest lights in show business — including director Stephen Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner — have re-imagined the legendary musical. They're following in the footsteps of the original work's creators: composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephan Sondheim, book author Arthur Laurents and stage director and choreographer Jerome Robbins.

If you're a fan of the original 1961 film, you may ask: How dare they tinker with such a classic? But, as Spielberg's choreographer Justin Peck says, "they approached this with a sense of reverence and admiration for the original." As did Peck, the resident choreographer for the distinguished New York City Ballet, who has designed 35 dances for stage.

As is the case with Spielberg, this is Peck's first movie musical — and his first movie, period. Luckily, he had Spielberg to guide him; the two worked closely together. And Peck was fascinated, watching the director read pages of words on the screenplay, "and immediately transpos[ing] that into visual language." Spielberg made quick, crude sketches like storyboards to show what he wanted the camera to see. Peck adjusted his dancers accordingly. That was the most exciting part for Peck — discovering "how visual [Spielberg] was as an artist."

There were times it wasn't easy. 100-degree days filming on killer hot New York city streets. The dancers and crew of West Side Story often had to perform on broiling cement, concrete, bricks and stairs. Peck says everybody pushed along together, in sweaty chaos. Meanwhile, Spielberg was in heaven. "I remember Stephen turning to me at one point and saying, 'there's nowhere else I'd rather be than here right now, working on this,'" Peck says.

Onstage in 1957 and in the 1961 film, Jerome Robbins' dances for the rival gangs and their girls were all attitude: snapping fingers, flashing teeth, flicking of skirts, tossing of heads. Justin Peck knows that original choreography cold; he danced the role of Sharks leader Bernardo when he was younger. But for this updated version, he makes the dances more menacing.

Sebastian Serra as Braulio, Ricky Ubeda as Flaco, and David Alvarez as Bernardo Niko Tavernise/© 2021 20th Century Studios hide caption

toggle caption

Niko Tavernise/© 2021 20th Century Studios

Each gang has its own movements. The newly arrived Puerto Rican Sharks swagger, scorning the Jets. But instead of swagger, the Jets are more complicated. Dancing close together, they move as one. "There's a kind of explosiveness," Peck says. "And a danger, and a unity."

The Jets' steps show their bond, which gives them security, and you can see it in how they move. "They're being pushed out of this neighborhood," Peck says. "They don't have jobs, they don't have a sense of what the future holds. All they have is one another and the kind of 'family' they consider their gang to be."

Like the choreography, West Side Story's musical creators, composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, reflect all this tension in their songs. In "America," — a spirited, hilarious fight song — the Sharks argue the merits of their new home, versus the tropical island they left behind. One lyric: I'll get a washing machine. What have they got there to keep clean!?

The argument becomes the dance. "As the tension rises, " says Justin Peck, "and the pressure between them gets higher, when words fail and there needs to be steam let off, it lifts off into dance." The movement continues the story. And it all comes together, sweeping the original tale, based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, into a new century.

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