Together 'There Was Magic': Two Fluid Dancers in Our Racing Times – The New York Times

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The nonbinary dancers Ashton Edwards and Taylor Stanley made history in their magnetic performance of Justin Peck’s “The Times Are Racing” at New York City Ballet.

Ashton Edwards rushed across the stage and straight into Taylor Stanley’s arms on a Sunday afternoon at New York City Ballet. This wasn’t unexpected. In “The Times Are Racing,” a fervent ballet by Justin Peck, that hug is part of the choreography — a freeze-frame of raw emotion, like a stop sign dropped into a sea of hurtling, sweeping bodies. The embrace is a signal for a new beginning: an intimate pas de deux that unfolds like a dream within a dream.
“I felt like I was running with full force,” Edwards said in an interview, “recklessly, just throwing myself out there.”
Standing out there, poised to catch Edwards in a tight embrace, was Stanley. Their performance glowed, and not just because it was newsworthy: This was the first pairing of two nonbinary dancers in a major pas de deux at City Ballet.
But what mattered more was the energy between their physical forms; the warmth they radiated even at a distance; and their phrasing, which was so fluid that at times they seemed less two bodies than one.
As part of City Ballet’s 75th anniversary celebration, Edwards, a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, came to New York as a guest artist for two shows of “The Times Are Racing,” which they have performed with their home company. Edwards, known for dancing female roles on pointe — which is extremely rare in ballet, where ideas about gender remain stubbornly traditional — is all radiance. While small, Edwards moves with big scale and ever-growing extension; there is no hesitation, only constant attention to detail.
For “The Times Are Racing,” Edwards performed their role, created for a woman, in the original costume. The sight of them in a long-sleeved leotard, floral on top and black trunks on the bottom, was doubly striking, for its outward beauty and for what it illuminated about inner grit. The costume was a symbol of strength and perseverance.
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