Alexander Peters describes the physicality of his work of art the way a choreographer can describe dancers moving through a stage.
He knows the language intuitively. As a dancer, he was used to being a medium for artistic expression. The stage is a canvas, his body and art are color, his movements are strokes. He is now discovering a new way of letting his artwork dance on the canvas.
It is rare to be an accomplished artist in two different media. Peters is the lead dancer of the Miami City Ballet, a company he joined in 2017 after building his career at the Pennsylvania Ballet and coaching at the American Ballet School.
His work – consisting of dancing and moving around in exercise studios for hours a day – and the creative house came to a halt when MCB’s final program of the season was canceled and the studios closed.
“It was definitely a painful experience,” says Peters. “I was told that not only could you not get to work and move around, but you were also stuck in your apartment. My initial reaction was very packed and anxious in the sense that I had all that excess energy to expel and had no way to do it. “
As a child, he attended art classes and returned to painting when his husband moved to a school in Philadelphia in December 2018. Although it began as an activity that passed over time, Peters soon discovered “the physicality of what painting could be on a larger scale . ”When quarantine took hold, the hobby became his“ artistic subsistence ”.
Peters experimented and tried to replicate what he had observed in the art he liked. He would work on the piece, separate it, and come back to it weeks later, following previous textures and patterns as a guide to creating something new and more efficient. He gravitated to abstract expressionism and was inspired by the works of Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. He likes the way these artists manipulate color and use color and shape to express something.
She compares it to the types of ballet she enjoys dancing: the neoclassical and abstract works of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
“There’s not necessarily a clear narrative, but there are a lot of stories in movement and shapes and geometry about how they put dancers on stage and about the relationship between one dancer and another,” Peters explains.
Photo courtesy of Alexander Peters
He found painting challenging in a way that dance is not. The live performance is fleeting. Everything the dancer does and what the audience sees is experienced in that moment.
“When you paint, when you decide to make a brush stroke and let the paint dry, it’s there. It exists forever,” says Peter. “I have to challenge myself to get rid of my perfectionism and enjoy the beauty of all the mistakes I have made.”
Peters also noted how the evolution of his work reflects what is going on. He started with abstract landscapes, flowers and still lifes. In quarantine, Peters “went to a very geometric place,” boxing in shape and controlling connectivity. He recently began painting abstract landscapes with characters that are distant and isolated from each other.
In recent months, Peters has sold some parts Instagram and even received some commissions. His goal is to exhibit in a gallery where his work can tell a complete story.
“Physically standing in front of something has a completely different effect on you than using the internet. And the same could be said for dancing,” he says. “Nothing can be connected to the experience of being in the theater, watching dancers live, listening to music from the pit of the orchestra. You can’t repeat that experience, and I think you could say that with painting.”
The Miami City Ballet is working out plans for its modified 35th anniversary season. At the same time, fundraising efforts are focused on supporting Peters and his fellow dancers through the Dancer Support Fund, which will “cover salaries, health insurance and benefits for our dancers and artistic staff to protect their health and economic well-being. “So far, MCB has raised about $ 1.3 million from its $ 4 million target.
Peters waits in his wings, ready to take the stage once more. He is happy to have found a new way to express his physicality and art until the curtain rises again.