Peter Frame – Reviving a Solo for Miami City Ballet
May 17, 2017
Peter Frame joined New York City Ballet in 1976, was promoted to soloist in 1981, and was a principal dancer from 1987-1990.
He has been on faculty at Ballet Academy East since 1999.
During my career, I was given so many opportunities to dance amazing ballets and work with very gifted choreographers. There was, however, one rare opportunity that I will not forget and would love to share with all of you.
In 1986, Paul Taylor came to watch NYCB’s company class, and I could not believe my eyes. The first time I saw Paul Taylor’s company perform Cloven Kingdom and Arden Court at City Center, I prayed that I would get the opportunity to work with him. I was, and still am, in love with the grounded, smooth manner in which his dancers move. I was so grateful when I saw my name on the rehearsal schedule for EPISODES at the Taylor Studios.
I soon discovered that the original choreography for EPISODES included a solo performed by Taylor in 1959. Although omitted since Taylor performed it, I would reintroduce the solo to the stage. This was one of the most exciting moments in my career: Balanchine and Taylor, together. I had the pleasure of performing this solo from 1986 to 1989, and after my retirement in 1990 it was once again omitted from the ballet.
Earlier this year, newly appointed Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez asked me to restage the solo on Miami City Ballet. When I first arrived in Miami, I sat with Ms. Lopez to watch company class and become familiar with the dancers I was to work with. This was the first time I saw the company in person, and I was thrilled to see such beautifully gifted dancers. They moved so elegantly in the massive studio and, at once, I knew this would be a wonderful experience. There were so many familiar faces in class, including men I had trained over the years at SAB with my preventative injury program as well as some of BAE’s own young dancers. It was an extremely heartwarming moment to reunite with Ariel Rose, who was asked by Ms. Lopez to learn the solo, and Aquinnah Fox, a newly appointed apprentice with the company. Before I began rehearsing with the men, I was asked to teach company class which was a joy in and of itself.
When I was first presented with the solo, I had only ten days to learn it before performing. Luckily for these men, after I taught it, they would have plenty of time to integrate the 8 minute solo; digest the intricacies of the steps; learn the sounds of the challenging Webern score – challenging, since there are no counts; and then become accustomed to dancing in bare feet.
I was so proud of the young men I worked with throughout my time in Miami. I gave them a strong foundation upon which they can build as they continue to work on this rare piece of Mr. Balanchine’s work.
Within four days I taught this very intricate solo to six men, taught two company classes, and was featured in a video interview. It was a thrilling, exhausting experience and it was worth every moment. The night before I left, I took some time to walk on the beach and allow myself to process my unique opportunity; I felt so fulfilled. I look forward to returning to Miami City Ballet in February for the tech rehearsals and EPISODES with the Taylor solo, once again, in its original place.