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Fresh Faces November 2023

Get to Know the Newest Members of the Corps de Ballet


As New York City Ballet prepares for this year's performances of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, three apprentices have been promoted to the Company's corps de ballet: Owen Flacke, Allegra Inch, and Noah McAuslin. Learn a little bit more about each of these dancers, including their foremost mentors, cherished memories from their time as apprentices, and more, before seeing them take part in the annual wintertime tradition.

Owen Flacke

What have been some of your favorite moments as an apprentice with the Company?

This past fall, getting to perform Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, known colloquially as PC#2 among the dancers, was a standout. Beyond the excitement of navigating through the actual dance of this labyrinthine masterpiece, the ballet’s score itself is so glorious that one can’t help but be moved. In PC#2, there are a solid two minutes before the curtain lifts when the Orchestra is solely responsible for carrying the ballet. In this time, the diverse range of an artist’s process is on full display. Some dancers choose to quietly center their thoughts, others expel their nerves with jumping jacks or jogging around the stage. There is a jittery anticipation of what is to come that enlivens the space. The buzz of the dancers onstage contrasts with the lush, full sound already present out front, with only the fabric of the curtain separating the two. But then the stage manager calls "Places," the din contains itself as we form two diagonal lines, the music builds to a natural crest, and the stage opens up. It is at this moment that I felt a real sense of majesty and grandeur each time I danced PC#2. Even though your back is turned, you feel the depth of the expanse rush in from behind you as the curtain lifts, revealing a gaping blankness filled with thousands of eyes. A cool air surrounds your body. There is a silence and a suspense, and it seems as if we—the dancers, the orchestra, the audience—are all holding in an exhale. Then, the strings tremolo vigorously, the ladies gather their arms into fifth, and the dancing begins. This ballet heightened my appreciation for the gift of our artform every single time I got to perform it.

What makes NYCB special to you?

Although many adventures at City Ballet happen onstage, to me, some of my most treasured moments have taken place offstage. Over the past year, I’ve learned the immense value of simply witnessing a performance, observing and absorbing off to the side, just as much as the value of actually getting to inhabit the role of performer. Nowhere else in the world is such observation so enlightening as at City Ballet due to the caliber of artistry and quality of the repertory of the Company. I’ve developed a particular fondness for observing performances from the stage left first wing, the closest seat in the theater. I have been lucky enough to watch a plethora of ballets from this vantage point. Highlights include Allegro Brillante, Haieff Divertimento, and Pictures at an Exhibition, just to name a few. Crammed into the nook between the proscenium’s border and the light fixtures in the first wing, there you exist on the edge of excellence, only one step away from the action. There is a thrill to that proximity; even now, I still feel the need to hold my breath when standing there.

Who inspires you most, or is a particularly important model or mentor?

Interestingly, I have found much of my inspiration in the female dancers of NYCB’s past. In particular, Margaret Tracey's influence on me has been profound. I was privileged enough to train under her during my time at Boston Ballet School, and she has continued to be a source of inspiration, both interpersonally and professionally, throughout my time at the School of American Ballet and now in the Company. The wit, verve, technical acumen, and attack abundant in her approach astounds me every time I’m able to find an archival recording. Her mastery of musicality and phrasing has been enormously instructive to me. I can also credit my years at BBS for my relationship with Miranda Weese, who has inspired me with her work onstage as well as in the studio. She has an acerbic intelligence to her dancing, dripping with glamor and expressiveness, that embodies the best of what City Ballet dancers can offer. Her use of dynamics to cultivate texture is in a class of its own. Whenever I watch her dancing, my mind races to try to catch all the choices, every head, arm, and pause—deliberate but not premeditated. These two dancers are brilliant practitioners of the form, and I feel extremely lucky to have their guidance and example.

What do you like about living in NYC?

There is an ineffable centrality about New York City that can’t be matched or captured; one can only intimately know it through living here. Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, which I performed for this year’s fall gala, is a quintessentially New York ballet that testifies to this experience. The first movement is often cited as the overt homage, which in its Grand Central-style pandemonium and electricity is an apt example of urban living, but to me, it is the second movement of the ballet that carries the real heartbeat of the city. This movement is a little more melancholy and solemn than the first or third, but its quietness speaks to that underlying current of elegy in the city’s lifeblood. The droning march of the corps, which serves as a backdrop for the principal couple, is a perfect distillation of the omnipresent motion of the city. I love venturing into the streets at night or in the early morning just to be among the ebbing activity—never absent but sometimes diminished. The relative emptiness of those tranquil hours creates a deserted palace of high-rises and skyscrapers, and yet there is still always that pulsating rhythm beneath the pavement. Those moments are New York City at its softest, its most vulnerable, and Glass Pieces’ second movement wholly understands those contours of the city. The deep humanity of NYC, which is often the very force breathing life into the works we dance, informs my perspective each and every day.

Allegra Inch

What did you do when you first found out you’d be a part of the Company?

I found out I’d be joining the Company onstage following a rehearsal for Theme and Variations, so after it was announced all my friends came running up to hug me. Everyone’s support in that moment made me feel even luckier to be joining this Company, and I was happy to be doing so with two other dancers. I then went to a quiet room to call my mom and share the news with her. We both cried tears of joy, completely in shock.

What have been some of your favorite moments as an apprentice?

One of my favorite moments as an apprentice was performing Donizetti Variations, specifically at the Kennedy Center. It was my first tour with the Company, which was already incredibly exciting, but I also remember visiting the Kennedy Center when I was much younger. To return to that theater now as a performer instead of an audience member felt very surreal, and I was honored to be dancing such a joyful ballet there on my first tour.

What makes NYCB special to you?

NYCB has always been special to me because ever since I was little, I remember hearing stories about my uncle [Ethan Stiefel] when he was a dancer with the Company. To be able to work with and learn from so many of the same people he did feels so special and reminds me of the remarkable history of this Company.

Who inspires you most, or is a particularly important model or mentor?

[Principal Dancer] Indiana Woodward is a dancer that I have looked up to for a long time. I’ve always found her presence onstage captivating, but knowing her has only deepened my admiration. She is such a positive person with some of the best advice and was extremely welcoming when I got my apprenticeship. Allegra Kent has always been an inspiration as well, and not just because we share the same name. I vividly remember watching a video of her doing Agon with Arthur Mitchell when I was younger and being so intrigued by the pas de deux. In interviews, hearing her stories and the imagery she felt while dancing reinforces why I fell in love with this unique art form.

Noah McAuslin

What makes NYCB special to you?

What stands out to me the most about NYCB is the breadth of work we perform. In any given season, there are so many different ballets that go onstage, and often they differ greatly from one another in terms of style and choreography. As a new dancer it's been a very exciting challenge to learn and retain all of the different choreography for each ballet.

What have been some of your favorite moments as an apprentice with the Company?

A really exciting moment was over the summer, when we were performing in Saratoga Springs. I was an understudy for Justin Peck's Copland Dance Episodes, and I got thrown into it the day before it went onstage. While it was a very nerve-racking experience, the ballet is so fun to dance that in the end it mostly just felt exhilarating. It was a great ballet to perform out in the open air.

What are you most proud of, outside of dancing?

I'm very proud to live and work in New York. When I first came to the city, at 14, I was really only here because I wanted to attend the School of American Ballet. I hadn't given the idea of New York itself much thought. But now, going on six years living here, I feel the city has really become my home. I've definitely fallen in love with it.

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