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Cecly Placenti, Artistic Director

  • Writer's pictureMiranda Stuck

Spotlight Session: Eva Alt

Eva Alt posing with fingertips touching and elbows wide apart.  Black and White.
Photo by Michael Avedon


Eva Alt is a dance artist based in New York City whose work spans choreography, performance, teaching, and writing. Eva received her training at the Boston Ballet School, performed with the Boston Ballet and BalletMet, with influential summers as an Apprentice with The Chautauqua Institution, Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet, and with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center.

In 2023, Eva premiered her multimedia, autobiographical solo show Steps and Words at New York Live Arts, and she was a choreographer for American Ballet Theater’s ABT: Incubator program. In 2021, she curated, produced, and choreographed How Beautiful Everything Is Before It Gets Its Name, a group dance show that explored the place in between rehearsal and performance. She has performed at The Watermill Center (works by Simone Forti), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Madeline Hollander: Hydro Parade), the Storm King Arts Center, and The East River Park Amphitheater. Eva was honored to participate as an interviewee in the development of the critically acclaimed documentary, In Balanchine’s Classroom.

1. How did your artistic journey begin?

When I was about 10 years old, I had been dancing for a few years at a small tap and jazz school. I felt serious about ballet and sensed I needed to move on to the ballet academy in my town to get better training and be around more talented dancers. No one could slow me down! At the audition, the director asked me to point my feet and demonstrate a few steps. She seemed pleased, and I was placed in the division for kids with potential to dance professionally, but in the level lower than kids my age. The director said I needed to learn more technique. I felt like I was with the babies, and swore to myself I would work extra hard…but I knew that wasn’t enough. I had to dig deep and discover my own dance voice. Yes, at 10! It began there, looking inward to express distinctive things outwardly. After a year, I was told I could skip a level to join my peers. I think it was the first time I witnessed my own self-transformation and had an understanding of the power and beauty of this process. I think that was the beginning of my artistic journey.

2. What do you hope to convey to the world through your work?

I grew up in the ballet world. It was all I really knew, and then when I was 20, I took a few years away from dance. In that time, I started to come into my own as an adult and a woman, and did many new things. For example, I studied philosophy, acting, art, and film, I worked at a startup, I had my first real boyfriend, I studied and practiced new kinds of dance. As I started to carve out my own opportunities to dance, choreograph, write, perform, curate, etc. I found an interesting point of tension between my training as a young dancer and life as an adult. My work, conceptually and in its movement style, exists within this in-between place. Through the work, I like to ask questions about the standard boundaries of the dance world, and challenge the way audiences perceive the career of a dancer.

3. When do you feel most powerful?

When I am dancing right on top of the music, something magical happens: the ability to play with timing. This is something I began to access when I started delving into Balanchine’s style, philosophy, and ballets from training with his dancers, and over time became part of my movement thesaurus and “signature”. It is something that I also adore watching other dance artists experiment with and interpret.

4. What has been your biggest challenge and your proudest moment during your artistic growth?

My biggest challenge has been the process of carving an independent path in dance over the last decade. Making and performing work as an independent dance artist is not easy. I definitely am only at the beginning of my career, but I'm starting to feel a sense of momentum, clarity, and purpose. This year was particularly meaningful for me and I feel proud of a few accomplishments that were years in the making. Creating a new ballet for American Ballet Theater as part of their ABT: Incubator program was particularly meaningful, it was my first time stepping back inside a traditional institution. Then I premiered Steps and Words at New York Live Arts in February, my autobiographical multimedia solo show. I’d been thinking about this concept for the last eight or so years. The piece incorporated spoken and written word, film, and movement, and it very much represented the kind of work I want to continue to make.

5. Can you describe your creative process?

I don’t think I have a full understanding of this as it is evolving, and I hope that continues. The iterative process is my favorite part of making or being part of a work. Bearing witness and getting inside the evolution of an idea is exquisite to me.

6. What do you do when you are not creating? What things outside of the dance industry inspire you and fuel your creativity?

I like doing a lot of different things. When I’m not in the mode of prepping for a show or project, I am taking as much class as possible, seeing shows, traveling, or having fun with my friends and loved ones. Being in water is one of my favorite feelings, and in the summer I try to go swimming every week. Art, music, my dreams, a conversation, reading, nature, all fuel my creativity.

7. What is next for you?

This past weekend I performed in Simone Forti’s “Huddle” for the Watermill Center Gala at the end of July which will honor her. This year I plan to work on a new creation, and would like to reprise my solo show Steps and Words.

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