Raising the barre: Opening Ceremony and Justin Peck stage a protest-inspired ballet

Oc Ballet 5
Opening Ceremony and choreographer Justin Peck have collaborated on The Times Are Racing.
(Image credit: Erin Baiano)

As crowds gathered at John F Kennedy International Airport on Saturday evening to protest Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries, Opening Ceremony staged its very own form of protest 20 miles away, at Lincoln Center’s David H Koch Theater.

Instead of presenting the usual runway show for S/S 2017, the New York-based brand opted for a night at the ballet, headlining the presentation after two other performances, Fearful Symmetries by Peter Martins and Pontus Lindberg’s The Shimmering Asphalt.

Justin Peck’s ’The Times Are Racing’

Justin Peck's 'The Times Are Racing' features costumes designed by Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon.

(Image credit: Erin Baiano)

Then came the main act, The Times Are Racing, choreographed by Justin Peck, with a soundtrack by outré electronic musician Dan Deacon, and costumes by Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony. The piece marks Peck’s third collaboration with the label after New Blood, which debuted at the New York City Ballet’s 2015 Fall Gala, and featured colourful, cutout unitards. The label also enlisted Peck for its S/S 2016 show, which featured members of the New York City Ballet falling and tripping down the runway in a choreography inspired by the usual monotony of the catwalk.

Twenty dancers filled the stage as the curtain rose, eschewing typical ballet costumes for something a little more street-smart. Pointe shoes were dropped for sneakers, while denim jeans and cut-off shorts, crop tops, windbreakers and hoodies took the place of ballet skirts and leotards. Some of the t-shirts, hoodies and tanks carried a defiant one-word message – ‘ACT’, ‘PROTEST’, ‘FIGHT’, ‘DEFY’ and ‘CHANGE’, especially pertinent sentiments considering the charged political climate in the US since Trump took the presidency a little over a week ago.

ballet performance

The ballet closed with an energetic group performance, performed to a soundtrack by Dan Deacon

(Image credit: Erin Baiano)

The dancers started out in a big crowd, the soundtrack coming from the final four tracks of Deacon’s 2012 album America. His pulsating beats took over the performance, echoing the mood of the night, before giving way to a more melodic tone as a couple of dancers softened the air with a lighter duet. The piece closed with an energetic group performance.

Opening Ceremony also collaborated with tech giant Google, creating a series of Artworks Live Cases – one of which is covered with the messages of protest against a red background, to coincide with its S/S 2017 collection.

Opening Ceremony and Justin Peck stage a protest-inspired ballet

The protest themed ballet featured hoodies, sweatshirts and tank tops designed by Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon

(Image credit: Erin Baiano)

2015 ballet New Blood

Peck and Opening Ceremony also worked together on the 2015 ballet New Blood and the brand’s S/S 2016 runway show

(Image credit: Erin Baiano)

Ballet dancing

Ballet costumes were eschewed for more street-smart styling

(Image credit: Erin Baiano)


For more information, visit the Opening Ceremony website and the New York City Ballet website

Ann Binlot is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who covers art, fashion, design, architecture, food, and travel for publications like Wallpaper*, the Wall Street Journal, and Monocle. She is also editor-at-large at Document Journal and Family Style magazines.