Georgina Pazcoguin

Dress by Ferragamo. Shoes, Pazcoguin's own.

Live from New York: Georgina Pazcoguin

Last weekend, Georgina Pazcoguin stood alone on the lip of the stage at Lincoln Center, shining and smiling under a bright spotlight while taking in a standing ovation after her final performance with New York City Ballet. In her career of over two decades with the company, she has been a powerful force for change, both onstage, as one of the most prominent Asian-American ballerinas in the country, and off, as when she led the charge to re-choreograph Balanchine's holiday classic The Nutcracker to update its racist national dances. As a half-Filipino dancer in a field that remains majority white, Pazcoguin says that she has accepted the responsibilities that come with her role as a breaker of barriers. "I think because of who I am and because of my heritage and because I don't fit the norm of what you think a classical ballerina is, I've always had to somewhat advocate for myself," she explains. "It's something that I had to do to be able to be seen in a positive way because I was seen anyway—there was no hiding me in the corps."

Throughout her time as a dancer, Pazcoguin says she encountered numerous challenges due to her ethnicity, but as she looks back, she says that she now understands them as learning opportunities. "Any incident where I viewed something that happened as a failure was just a chance for me to dig deeper and find new silver linings," she explains. She is currently putting those lessons to use as she tackles a very different creative challenge, as a producer on the forthcoming Broadway transfer of Here Lies Love, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's musical about former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos that will see the orchestra of the Broadway Theatre transformed into an immersive dance floor. "It's coming at a time in my life where everything, all the personal growth that I've been doing, seems to be making a culmination in this jump to being a first-time co-producer on Broadway in a show that features Filipino artists not only onstage but offstage and as part of the creative team," she says. "It's really just a full-circle moment and, for the first time in my life, I'm in these creative spaces with people who share my heritage and it's literally blowing my mind."

Here Lies Love first premiered at the Public Theater in 2013, and it moves uptown after two sold-out runs in a vastly altered cultural landscape. Amid a newly invigorated conversation about representation, the show's producers include, alongside Pazcoguin and a number of other Filipino-Americans, artists from the Philippines as well in a rare bi-national collaboration. "When it comes to what I value in terms of inclusive advocacy—not advocacy to just throw it out there and check off the box, but to really investigate within our system where we can do better—I think this show is really going to move the needle," she says.

As her focus shifts from performing to producing, Pazcoguin is also continuing her work as an advisor on Gold Standard Arts, which focuses on championing AAPI voices across various creative fields. The passion that was palpable in her dancing is now as visible in her work making space for others. "I think it's been written in my DNA to be somewhat of a disruptor. It's not disruption for the sake of creating havoc. It's disruption to break a norm that has put people of color, including myself, in a space where they've had to break through glass ceilings over and over and over again," she says. "It has always been my feeling that whatever doors I open, I'm turning around and I'm saying, 'Who's coming with me?'"

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Dress by Ferragamo. Shoes, Pazcoguin's own.

Dress by Ferragamo. Shoes, Pazcoguin's own.

Hair by Rebekah Calo. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Saint Luke Artists. Photographer's assistants: Daniel van der Deen and Mae Stark. Stylist's assistant: Jane Bickford. Makeup artist's assistant: Zac Hart.

As a nonprofit arts and culture publication dedicated to educating, inspiring, and uplifting creatives, Cero Magazine depends on your donations to create stories like these. Please support our work here.