"It's every choreographer's dream to make a ballet at New York City Ballet," adds the dancer, known to audiences for roles such as the high-flying Puck in George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Schumacher, a member of the NYCB corps de ballet since 2005, has toyed with the idea of choreography since his days as a student at the School of American Ballet. In 2009, while on summer break from NYCB, Schumacher asked Atlanta Ballet, where he received his initial training, if they would be willing to let him choreograph on their trainees. "I told myself that if I don't have a good time or if it's terrible, I won't do it again, but I should at least give it a try. I loved seeing how the music could be expressed in different ways."
Soon after, Schumacher partnered with other visual, musical, and literary artists to form what is now known as BalletCollective, of which he is the resident choreographer. The dancers are his fellow members of NYCB; they rehearse and perform during NYCB's off-season. Schumacher also participated in the Fall 2012 session of the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of NYCB. "Most of my previous works have been meant for more intimate audiences, but for the Institute, I did something very large-scale, which was good preparation for this ballet." He adds, "I used very complicated music for that, too."
For his NYCB world premiere, Schumacher chose the complex Clearing, Dawn, Dance by Judd Greenstein, a Brooklynbased composer of contemporary classical music. The ballet is costumed by acclaimed New York-based fashion designer Thom Browne, whose designs Schumacher has long admired. "There are interesting parallels between his fit aesthetic and what dancers actually wear when we rehearse: the way we accentuate our limbs," he says. And as the name of his company, BalletCollective, suggests, he draws inspiration from working collaboratively. "It puts a filter on my perspective that makes me consider things differently than I normally do. I know who these dancers are physically, but what he designs will help me determine, in some ways, who they are."