Tiler Peck: Ballet Dancer Talks ‘Turn It Out,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ Social Media, & More

When Covid-19 hit, ballerina Tiler Peck took to social media to conduct dance classes live. #turnitoutwithtiler became a sensation, connecting people all over the world. Locally, she’s known as the New York City Ballet’s principal dancer who has starred in shows recently like the technically demanding “Sleeping Beauty.” She’s written a series of children’s books, has a line of activewear, is producing a summer intensive, and she’s also no stranger to the East End.

We caught up with Peck to discuss all of her projects.

Photo by Vincent Tullo

Tell us about your background as a dancer. You began training at age two at your mother’s dance studio?

My mother was a dancer and since she owned a dance studio she became my first dance teacher. I was always at the studio with my mom so as soon as I could walk I was trying to dance in the back of her class. She gave me a wonderful foundation and at the age of six, she decided she just wanted to be my mom and not my teacher anymore and found me the best studio in Los Angeles to go to for my classes. I think that is why we have such a wonderful relationship — she is always my mother first and foremost but I love knowing that after a show I can ask her if she saw anything I need to fix or improve and can trust her opinion.

Tiler Peck as Princess Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty.” Photo by Paul Kolnik

You’ve been a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet since 2009, most recently as Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty.” How did it feel to step into that role?

“Sleeping Beauty” is the true test for a ballerina. It is technically the most demanding role and one that everyone knows since it has been danced over the years by many notable ballerinas. I have danced the role for four seasons, and I will say this last time was the first time I actually enjoyed it. This time around I was able to focus not only on hitting the technical aspects, but more importantly, on telling the story and showing the full arch of Aurora throughout the ballet.

Talk about some of your upcoming projects and events, like the Tiler Peck Summer Intensive.

I just finished the European debut of my show “Turn it Out with Tiler Peck & Friends” in London and look forward to sharing it more internationally and in the states. I am also looking forward to this summer, when I am hosting my fourth Tiler Peck Summer Intensive. I truly love teaching and sharing with the next generation of dancers and can’t wait to help them grow their technique and artistry. I am also getting ready to perform in Spain and Japan and excited to dance for different audiences.

We love watching your Instagram and TikTok. How do you see these platforms changing the way people view and participate in dance?

I love how social media allows me to connect to my audience. I feel like I am able to show who I am as Tiler and not seem like an untouchable ballerina (which I’m not!). I am grateful that these platforms allow me to have fun, stretch a different kind of creative muscle, and give people an inside look into my life and who I am.

Tell us more about #turnitoutwithtiler and how it began on social media during the pandemic.

#turnitoutwithtiler began during the lockdown in a completely organic way. I flew home to California as things started shutting down in New York because I just wanted to be with my family. My sister is the principal of a high school where my mom teaches dance, and they said why don’t you surprise the kids today (it was their first day on Zoom) and teach mom’s class? I thought that sounded fun and said, “Well why don’t I try an IG live and let others take it with us?” I thought maybe 25 people might show up… I had never done an IG live before. The class really took off and at first I had no idea that the number 15,000 meant that’s how many people were taking class! It was shocking but just showed me how many people were starving to be connected, take class, and move their bodies.

What inspired you to write your series of children’s books, “Katarina Ballerina”?

“Katarina Ballerina” was born out of a poem that my co-star Kyle Harris wrote during our time working on the musical “Little Dancer.” He showed it to me and I was very moved by it. Immediately, I knew we could expand upon the idea. The poem resembled him feeling like a fish out of water surrounded by all dancers in a musical about dance, and being the only non dancer. I thought, I am sure there are a lot of dancers (and all kinds of people!) out there who feel they are out of place. Maybe they don’t look like the other ballerinas, have the perfect slick ballerina bun, or flat turnout for example, but that’s not what really matters. Sometimes what makes you different, makes you unique, and that’s a great thing! I felt that story needed to be told.

Photo by Mark Mann

Tell us about Love, Tiler, your collection for Só Dança and your collection with Stateside.

I am thrilled to be partnering with Só Dança, a brand that aligns with my beliefs and is entirely inclusive. Together I believe we can take dance wear to a new height and am hoping my Love, Tiler collection with them will do just that. My second collection with Stateside, an LA-based brand, also just launched. Stateside is a womenswear line with all of the fabric being made in LA and that was very important to me being a Cali girl. I think my second collection of sweats to silk pants and skirts has something for everyone!

Do you visit the East End often? When you’re in the area, what are your favorite things to do?

I actually have spent a great deal of time in the East End. Most of my time was either spent in Southold or East Hampton. My favorite things to do are enjoy the beaches and local restaurants!

Jessica Mackin-Cipro


Jessica Mackin-Cipro is an editor and writer from the East End of Long Island. She has won numerous NYPA and PCLI awards for journalism and social media. She was previously the Executive Editor of The Independent Newspaper.

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