Could "Smash" Star Megan Hilty Be Any More Awesome?
I'll admit it: I have a big ol' girl crush on Megan Hilty. The gorgeous blonde may play an actress auditioning for a Marilyn Monroe musical in the new TV series "Smash," which premieres February 6 on NBC, but she's not your typical Marilyn-esque bombshell. Hilty's an intelligent performer with a serious voice, who in real life has already had star turns on Broadway in shows like 9 to 5 and Wicked. I was able to chat with Hilty for a few minutes this morning, during one of her rare breaks from "Smash"'s busy shooting schedule. (What, you think those fabulous musical numbers just happen?) Read on for her scoop from the set—and if you haven't already, watch "Smash"'s pilot episode for free right now on nbc.com!
When did you first hear about "Smash"?
Well, last pilot season, I was looking through all the new scripts, and this one stuck out like a sore thumb—it seemed too good to be true to have a TV show about the world I grew up in! But I was a little nervous. The role they wanted me to go out for was a big dancing part, and while I took dance classes all through high school and college and am a pretty good mover, I’ve never called myself a dancer—it’s never been my forte. Luckily, they hired this incredible choreographer, Josh Bergasse [read DS's interview with Bergasse in our February issue!]. He's our secret weapon—I swear, he's going to be the biggest star of out of everybody on the show. He does such an incredible job of telling a story through movement. And he makes me look like I know what I’m doing.
I kept seeing familiar Broadway faces pop up in the pilot. Does having lots of Broadway veterans on set help "Smash" feel more authentic?
Absolutely—and it’s great that I get to do this show with all my friends! I love showing up in the makeup trailer and seeing people I’ve been on Broadway with, or done summer stock with, or gone to school with. "Smash" is doing it right: They’re hiring all the people this show is celebrating.
What makes this show unique?
The characters in "Smash" are people you’ve never met before. You can relate to them, but they’re not stock characters you’ve seen on other shows. They’re all beautifully flawed: They make huge mistakes, but you’re rooting for them at the same time. And of course there's the musical component, which takes the show to another level. Just as they do in a good musical, the songs drive "Smash"'s plot, expressing thoughts and feelings that the characters couldn’t just say.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.