Troy Schumacher is an American choreographer, dancer, and director living in New York, NY. His aesthetic draws upon the artists he collaborates with to produce fresh, unexpected results. He is a soloist dancer with New York City Ballet and the founder of BalletCollective, an arts collective driven toward creating new ballet-based works that has been moving ballet forward since its inception in 2010. His work has been presented by New York City Ballet, Performa, Danspace Project, Guggenheim Works and Process, the Joyce Theater, and NYU Skirball Center. He has collaborated with many artists, including Jeff Koons, Thom Browne, Marques'Almeida, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Maddie Ziegler, and David Salle. In addition to live performances, Schumacher has choreographed numerous art, fashion and commercial shoots, including works for Google, Sony PlayStation, Capezio, HP, Aritzia, CR Fashion Book, Tom Ford, and The New York Times. See below for an extended bio.
For Troy Schumacher, his infatuation with dance began not with ballet, but with tap. At 9, he quit soccer practice for dance classes and eventually persuaded his parents to install a tap floor in his bedroom. A Nutcracker audition led him to ballet, and his formal training began at the Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, where he studied from 2000 to 2002. His teachers then encouraged him to study in New York where, at 15, he continued his training at the School of American Ballet from 2002 to 2004, when he was invited to join the New York City Ballet, first as an apprentice, then in the corps de ballet, and then as a soloist.
At City Ballet, Schumacher has performed principal roles in a number of ballets including George Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nutcracker, Vienna Waltzes, Prodigal Son, Union Jack, Suite No. 3 and Stars and Stripes, Jerome Robbins’ Interplay and The Concert, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. He has originated roles in ballets by Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied and Christopher Wheeldon.
Both the exposure to observing the choreographic wealth of City Ballet and the opportunity to dance in these masterpieces had its affect on Schumacher. Inspired to learn as much as he could about music to prepare himself to choreograph, he taught himself to play the piano. Understanding that dance is a collaborative art and citing the historic examples of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and the creative partnership of Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky on Agon, Schumacher decided to form an arts collective that would create opportunities to work closely with composers and artists. They would then present ballet-based works to original live music in intimate theaters and would feature some of his emerging NYCB colleagues and accomplished young musicians.
While dancing full-time with City Ballet, in 2010 Schumacher began to incubate and eventually form a dance company that would reflect his commitment to ballet as a collaborative art that represents contributions from the choreographer, dancers, musicians and artists who engage in an ongoing give and take process.
In 2013, Schumacher refined this twenty-first century model based on his vision for what constitutes a ballet company for our time and created BalletCollective. Its mission, similar to the company that preceded it, is to present ballet-based work in an intimate setting with live music that represents contributions from a unique, evolving collective of artists.
BalletCollective's four one-act ballets, Progress, Epistasis, Warehouse under the Hudson, and The Impulse Wants Company, received a great deal of notice, for both their quality as well as their innovative creation. In response to the work, critic Alastair Macaulay wrote that Schumacher's work "made a strong impression: original, complex, fresh, touching."
The fall of 2014 marked a significant step in Schumacher's career as he created his first commission for the New York City Ballet. For its premiere at NYCB's fall gala and subsequent performances, Schumacher chose a score by Judd Greenstein and tapped fashion designer Thom Browne to create the costumes for Clearing Dawn. The premiere of Clearing Dawn was singled out as the highlight of the fall gala by The New York Times. Right after NYCB's fall season, Schumacher was tapped by Sony Playstation to choreograph a series of video game inspired ballets entitled "World's Greatest Victory Dances". In November 2014, BalletCollective presented the world premieres of two new works by Schumacher: Dear and Blackbirds by the team that created The Impulse Wants Company, and All That We See, created in collaboration with Ellis Ludwig-Leone and the painter David Salle.
Following several choreographic breakthroughs in 2014, Schumacher spent the first half of 2015 working on several commissions outside of the ballet world, including commissions from Danspace Project and Performa and media projects from HP, Tom Ford and indie band San Fermin. In the summer, Schumacher took BalletCollective to Millbrook, NY for their inaugural residency at Millbrook School and Telluride, CO to choreograph and workshop BalletCollective's new ballets for their fall season. The fall marked the premiere of Schumacher's second work for New York City Ballet, Common Ground, which featured a cast of seven dancers, new music by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and costumes by LVMH prize winners Marques'Almeida. Schumacher's unique ability to reinvent dancers was cited in one of the multiple rave reviews by The New York Times' Alastair Macaulay, "All seven dancers – Ashley Laracey, Alexa Maxwell and Mr. Ramasar are the others — become not only new people in this work but also different with each return to the stage." Following the success of Common Ground at NYCB, Schumacher brought BalletCollective back to NYU Skirball for the highly-praised world premieres of two new works: Invisible Divide and The Last Time This Ended.
In 2016, Schumacher collaborated with Jeff Koons and Google to produce Koons' first ever live action video art piece, which Schumacher choreographed and performed in with wife Ashley Laracey, a soloist with New York City Ballet. In addition to his work with Google, he choreographed a commercial for Capezio featuring dance star Maddie Ziegler in collaboration with Bon Duke which currently has almost two million views on YouTube. In July, Schumacher staged excerpts of Invisible Divide for a group of five dancers from American Ballet Theatre for the Nantucket Dance Festival. The fall brought the premieres of Schumacher's ninth and tenth works for BalletCollective: Until the Walls Cave In, a collaboration between Schumacher, architect James Ramsey and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and The Answer, a duet in collaboration with architect Carlos Arnaiz and Judd Greenstein.
As a choreographer, Schumacher values ballet technique for its sculpting of musculature, athletic musicality, and dynamic movement, qualities exemplified in both his dancing and choreography. In his work, Schumacher seeks to develop connections with each dancer’s movement qualities and explore their physical connections to other dancers onstage, the music, and also their physical surroundings. His works connect viscerally with the accompanying music and the dancers in them are people, and often simply themselves. Always exploring new sources of inspiration, Schumacher formed BalletCollective to allow other art forms to influence his work. At the same time, his ballets exert their influence on these other forms, resulting in a dialogue that moves to create a rounded whole.
For more information on BalletCollective, visit BalletCollective.com