Happy Friday everyone! This week’s Famous Friday Article is about New York City Ballet (NYCB) Ballerina, Georgina Pazcoguin! Pazcoguin was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania to a Filipino father and Italian mother.
Georgina started ballet at a young age. At age four, she began to attend Allegheny Ballet Academy. In 2001, at age 16, she enrolled in the official school of New York City Ballet – the School of American Ballet. She also trained at summer youth ballet programs. In October 2002, Pazcoguin became an apprentice with NYCB, and the following year she became a member of the company’s corps de ballet. In 2013, she was promoted to soloist and became the first Asian American female to gain soloist status in NYCB. During her time there so far, she has had several featured roles. Aside from performing with NYCB, Pazcoguin debuted on Broadway in 2015 with the cast of On the Town, performing as Ivy Smith, the following year she also played the character Victoria in the revival of Cats, also on Broadway.
The road to her success was not easy, however. Pazcoguin recounts the acts of racism she has faced in the NYCB, specifically during the production of the Nutcracker. Here she discusses her experiences of being a POC and the injustices she has faced in this setting. For example, there was a stark contrast between the A and B cast. Those in the A cast were people white, while the B cast consisted of almost only people of color. Also, any role of a villain would be played by someone with black hair. Pazcoguin also recalls a specific dance in the Nutcracker, that made her uncomfortable – the Chinese Tea dance. This number does not accurately portray the Chinese culture, and in her words is a “…mockery of Asian heritage…”, as it features many Asian stereotypes, included yellow-tinted face paint, pointed hats, and head nods.
Despite these experiences and the hurt they caused, Pazcoguin has pushed forward to make NYCB a more diverse and inclusive space. To do this, she joined the diversity committee in 2017. Along with Phil Chan, Pazcoguin began a Final Bow for Yellowface pledge – seeking for the accurate representation of Asians in the Nutcracker and other ballet productions. Also, more recently she published a memoir titled Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina, where she lets us in on her journey as a ballerina and speaks out against mental abuse, sexual harassment, and racism in NYCB. It’s amazing that despite the experiences of injustice, Pazcoguin continues to fight and advocate for the marginalized, abused, and in need – and leading the way to a more diverse and inclusive world.
Madelyn Rempel, Project RACE Teens President
Photo Source: https://www.thecastagency.com/georgina-pazcoguin