One of ballet’s most popular leading ladies and Princess Grace Award Winner, Tiler Peck , on break now from New York City Ballet, is spending her time with family in California. But far from resting, she’s continuing her ballet training routine daily and is joined by over 1,500 dancers from around the country who participate via Instagram live! Read how it all came about, why celebrities are joining her classes, and what it means to her to be teaching ballet virtually to thousands at all skill levels. Watch #turnitoutwithtiler with fellow Princess Grace Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. here!
PGF-USA: You started teaching on Instagram (IG) Live very early in the shutdown. What inspired you to begin teaching?
Tiler Peck: My sister is a Principal at a High School and had asked me to virtually teach the dance team (the school’s advanced dancers); as I was going to give myself class anyways, I thought I’ll just do it at that time so they can just do it with me. Then I thought, well if they’re doing it, I might as well just put it online for people at home to join as they want as they cannot go to their normal classes. I really didn’t think anybody was going to join or want to do this!
PGF-USA: Tell us a little about how it’s evolved?
Tiler Peck: Once I started teaching and it became a daily thing, I really wanted to see who I was teaching. I’ve taught ballet since I was very young [Tiler’s mom has a dance school] and my teaching style is very hands on. I was missing the opportunity to see my students and give corrections so I created #turnitoutwithtiler so dancers could share their videos and I could watch and offer corrections in the next class. It’s really been amazing to see so many people from so many different dance backgrounds participate. There are professional dancers, really young dancers, people who are putting back on their shoes after 12 years, and beginning students who have never taken class before. As I noticed the wide range of levels, I started giving a beginning and advanced version. I love seeing everyone’s videos and staying connected. This way I feel good that people at every level can participate.
PGF-USA: You’ve started featuring ‘guest stars’ on your classes – tell us a little about how that came to be?
Tiler Peck: It felt like a great way to bring artists that people may not have the opportunity to meet into their lives. It started with Misty Copeland joining and it’s really grown from there.
PGF-USA: Fellow Princess Grace Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. joined you two weeks ago. What was that like?
Tiler Peck: With Leslie, I’ve really met him through Princess Grace Foundation events, and of course I’m a huge fan of Hamilton – I’ve seen it three times! I reached out to him on IG and he immediately said yes. He was fantastic and really had the idea of what he wanted to share during class. I didn’t know that he took dance when he was little and I loved that he shared that information because it shows how you can carry the skills you learn in ballet with you in your future career.
PGF-USA: How do you connect with these artists?
Tiler Peck: I mostly reach out to them, though now some people reach out to me. I’m really excited; one of my guests is going to be Jennifer Garner [she appeared the day after this interview took place]. Some dream guests I have are Cynthia Erivo or Hugh Jackman…. And I’d love to have more Princess Grace Award winners join me!
PGF-USA: Tell us a little bit about your daily life as you try to stay in shape?
Tiler Peck: Actually, teaching class on IG has been the best thing to keep me in shape! It holds me accountable to a set schedule and I have to make sure I do a full hour and all the exercises. It also has been keeping me very busy between planning class, guests and doing interviews – it’s become a full-time job!
PGF-USA: Are there any other ways you’re staying connected during this time?
Tiler Peck: I left home at a young age [to study at School of American Ballet]; the silver lining in this time is how much time I get to spend with my family. We’re watching old movies together and playing board games. Next up a Grace Kelly movie!
The Princess Grace Foundation – USA is dedicated to elevating extraordinary artists in theater, dance, and film via game-changing awards in the form of grants, scholarships, and fellowships. The Foundation is a non-profit, publicly-supported charity, headquartered in New York City.