Like the crystals that he always carried in his pockets Peter shined with us for 61 years sharing the varied facets of his life. For me he was my twin brother and to others he was family, a friend, dance colleague and teacher, Peter made New York City his home for 44 years. His journey began as a student in The School of American Ballet for one year, then to dancer with The New York City Ballet starting under George Balanchine for 14 years rising to the rank of Principal and finally as a teacher with The School of American Ballet and Ballet Academy East for over 2 decades.
I suppose one way to measure the success of one’s life is to ask the following question.
Did you leave the world a better place with the time you had to spend in it? For those of us who knew and loved Peter the answer is without question, yes. His beautiful, elegant, energetic Balanchine movement was shared with us for years. His dance career was truly a success story: that of a young wide-eyed dancer coming from the hills of West Virginia stepping into known possibilities of the dance world in New York City. His talent and hard working nature helped accomplish his dream.
If you ask me I think Peter’s biggest accomplishment in life was found in his role as a dance teacher. He of course was teaching technique, but he began to be aware of another aspect of a dancer’s life that could enhance or limit the experience. And that was the world of emotions. Peter created a nurturing safe space to shine light on a dancer’s internal struggles and joys. Many brave voices were heard out loud over the years of Peter’s teaching and tools were given to them to breathe through these intimate, precious moments guiding them forward to becoming a healthier person and ultimately a healthier dancer. Talk to his students and you will hear the love and respect they continue to hold of Peter in their minds and hearts. Many found a rekindling of their love for dance. If he saw a dancer in need he offered his time to them. Many had moments with Peter alone in hallways where they shared their fears and concerns as he listened patiently allowing a safe place for them to understand their feelings and chart a new path forward. And over the years Peter received countless letters from grateful parents thanking him for helping them for helping their daughters and sons.
I believe that true love given never dies in the hearts of the recipients and that it takes on a life of its own. Wouldn’t it be nice if just one of his students passed on to another what Peter taught them. Such is the contribution one person can have in this world.
Peter was a funny man and his impersonations would leave you laughing out loud.
Peter was a very spiritual man and he evolved so throughout his life.
Peter liked to say that people are spiritual beings having human experiences. He accomplished so much in his human experience and indeed left the world a better place. We lost Peter too soon but knowing him as I do he is continuing to reach out to us through the veil and urging us onward and to continue the journeys that allow us to add more facets to our beautiful, authentic selves.