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Tiler Peck Remembers Rebecca Luker in This Week's Flashback Friday

Peck provides new context for a rehearsal room performance from Little Dancer that we filmed in 2014.

Ballet dancer Tiler Peck worked with Rebecca Luker twice over the course of their respective careers. At the age of 11, Peck, one of New York City Ballet's principal dancers, joined the Broadway company of The Music Man, in which Luker played librarian Marian Paroo. As an adult, they were each other's shadow in the 2014 Kennedy Center production of Ahrens and Flaherty's Little Dancer (now titled Marie, Dancing Still), playing the younger and older versions of Marie van Goethem, the ballerina who inspired the famous statue by Edgar Degas.

Luker passed away in December after a yearlong struggle with ALS, and it has led the theatrical community to reflect on what she meant as both an artist and a person. Peck used words like "angel" and "lovely" and "the whole package" to describe her. She took her work on Little Dancer so seriously, Peck remembers, that they would take ballet classes together and spend a great deal of time making sure their gestures looked the same.

And on one number, when director and choreographer Susan Stroman suggested Luker do a potentially unconquerable feat — which Peck described as "hitting the highest note in the entire show" at the same time as beating her feet like a ballerina, while being lifted — initial trepidation led to a flawless performance, because everyone rightfully believed Luker could do anything. "To see her do that and nail it every night, like it was the easiest thing for her? That's my favorite memory," Peck concludes.

You can see an early version of this, through a rehearsal-room performance of the song "Looking Back at Myself," in the video below: