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Misty Copeland And Justin Peck Curate Ballet Series At Kennedy Center

Apr 18, 2017

Misty Copeland (Bebeto Matthews)

Since his career as a dance maker took off just five years ago, New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck has traveled the country creating works for companies large and small. Personally, professionally and artistically, he’s been deeply involved in ballet across America.

Fittingly, having lived its moniker, Peck curated part of the “Ballet Across America” series at the Kennedy Center April 17 and April 19-23.

“I’ve been exercising a different part of my brain,” Peck says with a laugh in a recent phone interview. “I’m used to just creating new ballets.” Instead, the 29-year-old has taken on a directing role, selecting works and companies he admires and bringing them together. He calls it a “personal-taste sort of program.”

This is the fourth iteration of the Ballet Across America series, which debuted in 2008. In the past, the Kennedy Center’s director of dance programming, Meg Booth, curated the series, which allows generally small, regional companies to perform a single work on a shared program with other troupes. This year, for the first time, the Kennedy Center chose two guest curators: Peck, a New York City Ballet soloist as well as a choreographer, and American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland.

Neither one is dancing in the series; their contributions have been behind the scenes. They each put together a program that will run for three performances.

Copeland’s, from April 19 to 21, features the Nashville Ballet, in Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s “Concerto”; the New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet in Dwight Rhoden’s “Star Dust,” a tribute to David Bowie; and the Black Iris Project, performing Artistic Director Jeremy McQueen’s “Madiba,” a tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013.