Dominic Pecikonis, seated center, is dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, in Uptown Players’ regional premiere of Terence McNally’s Fire and Air, which also features Patrick Byrne, Aaron Cash, Lisa Fairchild, Marianne Galloway and Danny Vanegas.

Nonbinary actor exudes confidence with new role in Uptown Players’ Fire and Air premiere

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

When Dominic Pecikonis graces the stage on March 7 in Uptown Players’ premiere of Fire and Air, it will certainly be an important moment for the actor. This very performance sounds like a culmination of the actor’s skills, but it’s not just that. In this role, Pecikonis stands their ground as a trans-nonbinary person.

“All my life I’ve struggled with my identity not fitting a box,” the actor said in a statement about the show released by Uptown Players. “From being mixed race to coming out as nonbinary, I’ve had to overcome stigma, judgment and miseducation to find myself and find my place in this industry.”


‘Fire and Air’ regional premiere
Written by Terrence McNally
Directed by Cheryl Denson
Choreography by Carrie Ruth Trumbo
Patrick Bynane
Aaron Cash
Lisa Fairchild
Marianne Galloway
Dominic Pecikonis
Danny Vanegas
March 7-17 in the 6th Floor Studio Theater in the Wyly.


The show will be staged in the Sixth Floor Studio Theater at the Wyly. Pecikonis will play famed dancer Vaslav Nijinksy. But Pecikonis is coming to this role on their own terms.

“I wanted to do something where people didn’t see me on stage. That was a challenge to myself. Embodying someone who knows they are the shit forces me to tell myself that I am, too,” they explained.

But there was more to this role than just embracing Nijinsky’s story. For Pecikonis, taking on the role said much more.

For most of their life, the actor said, they felt forced to play male roles. And as mixed race person, Pecikonis said they played many roles they “shouldn’t have,” simply because their look fit the part.

The primary way Pecikonis relates to the dancer is his desire to create great art. That’s Pecikonis’ goal, too, as an actor and performer. But taking on this role of, by all accounts, a cis-gendered male, proved something to the actor.

“The last two years, most of my roles have been queer or female or male-light, and that’s been such a treat,” they said. And with those experiences — especially within the Dallas theater scene — Pecikonis’ grasp on their authentic self has been bolstered.

“Having those couple years that affirmed me and my identity, that gave me a sense of knowing myself and a sense of affirmation,” they said. “Now I can step into a male role and separate from it, and it doesn’t mean that I’m a male.”

Now, they can simply find the roles that speak to them and begin the process of inhabiting that role.

In this regional premiere of Terrence McNally’s play, the story is set in the early 20th century and focuses on the relationship between Ballet Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev, played by Patrick Bynane, and Pecikonis as the dance phenom Nijinsky.

From Uptown Players:

“McNally’s masterful script beautifully captures the tension between Diaghilev’s insatiable ambition to create groundbreaking ballets and Nijinsky’s struggle to balance his artistic expression with his own inner demons. The play delves deep into their passionate connection, their conflicts and the sacrifices they make for their art.”

While he was essentially straight, Nijinksky’s homosexual affairs weren’t the most shocking thing about him. Pecikonis noted that labels were more ambiguous back then in Europe.

However, the actor would declare one identifying aspect of Nijinksy: “I wouldn’t label him as a gay man, but maybe as a queer person. He does marry a woman and has these affairs with men. But that queerness would be his way to navigate where he goes in life.”

Pecikonis has their own ideas on where they go next; it’s just a matter of finding the theaters that can help perpetuate certain ideas of casting trans and nonbinary actors.

“There are theaters here trying to open their minds up to us and giving us that opportunity to be onstage, but there is still a long way to go,” they said. “I’m hopeful for theaters to see us as we are. It’s great to be in this show where queer people have this agency and even more poetic to me that I can be a trans person in this role.” █

For tickets, visit