Is there anything more magical - and so very New York - come the holidays than dressing up, bundling up, and heading to Lincoln Center for an evening spent in the Land of Sweets and sugar plum fairies with the New York City Ballet?
While this year marks the first time since its 1954 premiere that George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker will not be performed live on stage by the company, you can indeed keep the annual tradition alive thanks to NYCB and Marquee TV, who have partnered up to present a special stream of last year's show to be enjoyed in the comfort of your home all month long.
Of course, such an occasion is deserving of a bit more pizazz than your usual quarantine TV routine, and who better to ask for advice when it comes to setting the stage for a fancy, festive viewing experience than the ballet's very own Principal Dancer and prima ballerina (who's had plenty of turns as the Sugar Plum Fairy), Tiler Peck?
What's your schedule usually like this time of year?
This is such a crazy time for us, the Nutcracker season. We start right after Thanksgiving and go until January. We do a performance every day and on Saturdays there are two. Normally this time is insane and my family always has to come to New York because I really only get Christmas Day off. So, one great thing is that I’m spending Christmas home in California with my family this year. I’ve been in the company for 16 years, so that’s 15 years away from home for Christmas in New York!
What do you think is so special about The Nutcracker?
The Nutcracker is actually what made me want to be in the New York City Ballet. I saw it when I was 11. I had never thought I wanted to be a ballerina before but something about George Balanchine’s production - I was just mesmerized. I said, 'Daddy I’m going to dance on that stage some day.' So even though it happens every year and [we do] a lot of performances, it’s something that I look forward to every single year.
I think it's just a culmination of what the holidays are about. It feels like a time when everyone comes together and I feel it isn't Christmas in New York without it. So the fact that they’re streaming it on Marquee, it's really special for those families [who see it together], and even people who don’t get to come to New York, to watch it in their homes.
How would you set the scene for the perfect at-home viewing experience?
Well, my apartment is decorated as if I had this whole *house.* You definitely have to set the scene by having lights up and the Christmas tree. For me, I would have Jo Malone candles going. I actually don’t drink much but during the holidays I think a glass of champagne would be really nice and very festive.
I would definitely dress up because I think now that we're all at home and we spend so much time in our sweatpants, or we put on a nice top for a Zoom call and not bottoms, it would be fun to actually do "a night at the ballet" from your home - to get dressed up and put on your favorite dress.
And because The Nutcracker is the whole "Land of Sweets," I think [you can] go into that. There’s Spanish hot chocolate, Chinese tea, sugar plums, marzipan. A fun way to watch would be to have a [spread] of all those ingredients!
You've got plenty of experience doing your own makeup for performances, but what would be your go-to beauty look in the audience?
I just got this amazing foundation that I’m obsessed with, FACE Atelier Ultra Foundation. I love it and I think everybody should know about it! And I don’t really wear a lot of makeup, but one thing I do always love is putting some mascara on. I wear L’Oreal mascara and once you curl the eyelashes - you just look more awake and more put together. A little rosy blush. Chanel sent me this amazing little packet of goodies and I’ve been wearing their pink, sort of orange-y blush that just feels very festive for this time. And of course if you’re going to have a night at home for The Nutcracker, I think you need to throw on a red lip.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Tiler Peck (@tilerpeck)
You've also been bringing ballet to people at home with your #TurnItOutWithTiler Instagram Live classes through quarantine. Tell us about how that started!
As a dancer, we’re used to dancing every single day. Doing class, that’s kind of the essential. We’re at the barre every day training. So when the pandemic hit and we could no longer go into our classes, I still had to continue my craft and stay in dance shape. So I figured, I’m going to have to give myself class everyday. And then I started thinking, I bet there are so many people at home that aren’t able to go in and have their teachers teach them and so I thought, I guess I’ll just try an Instagram Live. If I’m doing class for myself I’ll just let everyone dance with me!
I had never done an Instagram Live before and I did it that very first day [in March] when everything shut down. I was one of the first people to do an at home class and I didn't even know what the numbers meant. I was like, Oh, I'm sure there’ll be like 15 people. That wasn’t the case! The responses that I've been getting from everybody... It’s just been the biggest gift for me during this pandemic. It's kept me motivated every single day, and to know that I was keeping everybody else physically motivated during this crazy time, it's just amazing.
And the people are dancing from all over the world! So many different countries, different ages, different levels, and that’s why I made the hashtag #turnitoutwithtiler, because in a physical class I’d be able to see the students, and the only way for me to see them this way is by them taking pictures or video and hashtagging. Then I would send them specific corrections and make it personal for them. So I really feel like I’ve gotten to know everybody and I feel like they’ve gotten to know my personality a little bit, instead of me just being on the stage at Lincoln Center. It’s been really, really fun for me.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Tiler Peck (@tilerpeck)
And while they're dancing along with you, pros and beginners alike can dress up in your dancewear, Tiler Peck Designs. What led to you creating your own line?
Well, because, like I said, I’m dancing every single day, I spend so much more time in my dance clothes than I do in my regular clothes. But people want to share their personality through their fashion, and so for me it was like, OK, if I’m going to be in these leotards and this dancewear all day, I want to make it something that’s comfortable, first and foremost, but at the same time I want it to be super cute and show my personality. So I started with like three leotards 12 years ago and they just kind of took off, and now we have so many designs. It’s been so fun to make Tiler Peck Designs and turn dancewear into streetwear. They're things I can wear in the studio and then wear out. And now, seeing everyone in my designs, it just makes my day!
You can stream the New York City Ballet's performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker on Marquee TV HERE, and catch Tiler's #TurnItOutWithTiler dance classes every Tuesday and Thursday on her Instagram!