Inside Opening Ceremony's Dance Performance

By now, Opening Ceremony fans know to expect some kind of unconventional Fashion Week presentation that takes Humberto Leon’s and Carol Lim’s outside-the-box thinking beyond a traditional runway (last season’s presentation occurred in tandem with a pop-up photography show by Spike Jonze; the season before, the designers staged a theatrical performance).

This season the duo brought back the runway format, but not without turning it on its head: A number of models stumbled. They tripped, they slipped, they went down — several times, too. But it was not at all graceless, and certainly not unintentional. Leon and Lim had enlisted Justin Peck, current resident choreographer at the New York City Ballet, to help stage a presentation — no, a performance — that would include seven dancers from the company in perilously tall heels embedded among the phalanx of models.

“I always felt like the runway march, there’s a specific way to do it — and I wanted to break it,” Leon said during a rehearsal photographed exclusively byT. “The first dancers to come out — you won’t know that they’re meant to fall. And the audience, in my mind, will participate. They might gasp or lend a hand,” he added. And this is exactly what happened: When the first model fell, audience members screamed and tried to reach down to help.

The idea of dance was in conversation with the show’s set too, which was based on never-realized plans for a living space designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The architect’s daughter was a modern dancer, for whom he designed sets and costumes, Leon said. “I wanted to bring an aspect of that into the show,” he said. Choosing Peck as a collaborator was an easy decision, Leon said, considering they’ve been working together on costumes for Peck’s new ballet to debut at the end of the month. “By including Justin in my world, and him including me in his world, it just makes our conversation that much stronger,” Leon said. “And I really wanted to share that dialogue with the audience.”


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