School of American Ballet graduate and Ballet Semperoper Dresden apprentice Gianna Reisen makes her first-ever work for New York City Ballet this season. Reisen began studying at SAB in 2010 and first participated in SAB’s Student Choreography Workshop as a choreographer in 2015. She also choreographed for the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of NYCB, during the fall 2016 working session. At just 18 years old, Reisen is the youngest person commissioned to choreograph in NYCB’s history.
How did you get your start choreographing?
When I was 14, I participated in SAB’s Student Choreographic Workshop as a dancer and immediately became interested in choreography. I hadn’t ever thought of it as a career path before that. I asked a former ballet teacher if I could help her choreograph for her school’s annual benefit performance, and a few years later, I was thrilled to make a ballet for the Student Choreographic Workshop. I was proud of what I did at SAB, but I didn’t really think much of it. A few months after the Student Choreographic Workshop, Peter Martins suggested I participate in the upcoming fall session of the New York Choreographic Institute, which was a huge surprise. In just two weeks, NYCI really helped me understand why I like and dislike certain things, and it taught me how to take challenges, untangle them, and apply them to my work.
How did you choose the music you’re using for your premiere?
I came across Lukas Foss’ Three American Pieces a while ago and remember thinking, “Wow, this just screams New York City Ballet.” It’s lighthearted, with elements of youthfulness and innocence while still emanating a sophisticated classism that I love.
Where else do you find inspiration for your work?
Other than music, I find my inspiration in everyday life. Building relationships within my ballets is extremely important to me, so I like to use personal experiences and real-life observations in my work. I’m also incredibly inspired by the dancers I work with. Adjusting and changing my ideas to fit specific dancers is something I love to do.
Reisen’s world-premiere will be performed alongside world-premieres by Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck and Troy Schumacher, in addition to Peter Martins’ The Chairman Dances, on September 28, October 4, 13, and 14 evening.