The principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, Tiler Peck brings a varied and compelling programme, Turn It Out to Sadlers Wells. The programme consists of four pieces, all with their own unique style. Each piece is worth watching at least twice to fully appreciate the intricacies, musicality, and skill of the dancers.

Credit: Christopher Duggan

Opening with Thousandth Orange, choreographed by Peck whilst she was injured, is inspired by still life paintings and the richness which can be seen in an object. The colour palette of the costumes (by Harriet Jung and Reid Barteime) are reminiscent of Cezanne or Van Gogh. Dancers start and end in tableau, moving in and out of that foundation place, displaying a connection to the musicians on stage. Caroline Shaw’s music is minimalist with only pianist Shu-Wei Tseng and a string quartet plucking or bowing dissonant sounds. The softness of the movements contrasts with the almost harshness of the sound and vibrance of the costume.

Swift Arrow is a stunning duet between Peck and Roman Mejia. The piece is full of fluidity and shape as the dancers play with points of connection and shifts in weight and balance. Starting with a strong beat soundtrack featuring live piano, the dancers begin apart, mimicking each other’s movements and taking up space, as they move together the beat stops and the piano takes over. There are points of contraction and release, signifying intimacy and pain, a need to create space and then close the gaps created. This is a stunning piece, and it is easy to see why Peck is a world-renowned ballerina.

Credit: Christopher Duggan

Act One ends with Time Spell, an incredible collaboration of tap dancing, live improvisational vocals, and ballet, choreographed by Michelle Dorrance, Peck, and Jillian Meyers. I could easily watch this piece again and again. The beat given to us at the beginning comes from tap dancer Dorrance. Dancers appear in monochromatic shirts and trousers, a workforce in slow motion, which moves and alters with the taps and vocal changes, controlling the dancers’ movements through time. Throughout the piece musicians, Aaron Marcellus and Penelope Wendtandt use loop pedals to create music on stage, combining vocals and body percussion, creating surprising earworms which remained in my head into the interval. The dancers slowly break out to dance to their own rhythms, their costumes becoming increasingly colourful. Towards the end of the piece we are treated to Peck and Dorrance dancing together – Tiler essentially tap dancing on pointe! – a clear joy exuding from both women.

Act Two consists of The Barre Project: Black Project II, choreographed by William Forsythe in a collaboration with Peck, which occurred over Zoom during the pandemic. A simple barre is set up in the middle of the stage as 4 dancers: Peck, Mejia, Lex Ishimoto, and Brooklyn Mack take turns showcasing their incredible talents. There is a mixed media element in the middle which felt slightly jarring as the musical accompaniment felt too abrasive, also the bass was too loud for much of the piece which was overwhelming. The music pulled me out a few times but the dancing brought me back. Peck’s solos are extraordinary, I couldn’t tell you if she was on stage for minutes or hours, as time ceased to mean anything. She is genuinely stunning to watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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