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City Ballet dancer Lovette dared herself to try choreography

City Ballet dancer Lovette dared herself to try choreography

'It was like working with random ingredients and not knowing what will happen'
City Ballet dancer Lovette dared herself to try choreography
Lauren Lovette is a New York City Ballet dancer ... and a choreographer
Photographer: Paul Kolnik

Local audiences don’t get to see too many New York City Ballet dancers who have choreographed a ballet and still continue to dance. Most hang up their dancing shoes.

On Thursday, however, fans will not only see principal dancer Lauren Lovette perform as Juliet in the afternoon, but that night see her new dance “Not Our Fate” given its local premiere.

“I’m an introverted kind of person, but when the School of American Ballet offered a class in choreography, I signed up,” Lovette said. “It was a dare to myself. I was reading a lot of self-help books, and they suggested you do something that scares you. It was a cool program.”

That was sometime in the early 2000s. In her first effort, she discovered that creating a ballet was much like cooking.

“I liked that it eliminated the idealism. It was like working with random ingredients and not knowing what will happen,” she said. “I had so much fun.”

Peter Martins, then-ballet master-in-chief, liked her efforts and asked her to do more. But Lovette wanted to dance. By 2010, she’d become a member of the corps; in 2013 she was promoted to soloist and two years later became a principal dancer. That’s when Martins asked her to do another ballet, but for the 2016 Gala. “For Clara” was her first official ballet for the company.

“It was a whirlwind, but I made it out alive,” she said with a laugh. “Now choreography feels like another way, a different side of my brain.”

The inspiration for “Not Our Fate,” her second ballet, came from what it’s like to ride the New York City subway when you might look into the eyes of a stranger and see their life, she said. She chose 15 minutes of Michael Nyman’s music for its driving, reckless, repetitive quality and 10 dancers (“It’s a perfect number.”).

The ballet premiered at the 2017 Fall Gala and the audience seemed to like it.

“I’m still working out things,  . . . tweaking,” Lovette said. “It’s innovative but comfortable for the dancers to dance. It’s very liberating.”

Are there more ballets on the horizon?

“I’ve no intention of stopping,” she said.

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