Fierce—and Somewhat Surprising—Competition for the Tony Awards
Kate Baldwin and Norbert Leo Butz in Susan Stroman's late but great Big Fish. Photo by Paul Kolnik
The 2014 Tony Award nominations came out Tuesday morning, and for us dancers—and the categories we love and care about—it's been an exciting (and somewhat surprising) whirlwind. Here's our rundown of the nominees:
The female ensemble of Bullets Over Broadway. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Big Fish—my personal favorite dance-tastic show this season—did not make the Tony grade, earning no nominations, despite genius direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. (Did the aging American Theater Wing and Broadway League reps forget it was eligible since it closed late last year? Hellloooo...it was awesome!) We can't be too upset for the great and zany Stro, though. Her newest smash hit, Bullets Over Broadway, starring Zach Braff (aka J.D. from "Scrubs"), earned six nominations, including nods for choreography, scenic design, and costume design—all quite deserving.
Karine Plantadit in After Midnight, choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Other dancemakers up for the prize of best choreography: Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine for Rocky, Casey Nicholaw for Aladdin, and Warren Carlyle for After Midnight.
Dulé Hill (center) and the cast of After Midnight. Photo by Matthew Murphy
If you're a tap fan, a jazz fan, a Desmond Richardson fan, or a plain "I LOVE DANCE SO MUCH" fan, After Midnight is the show for you. It's 90 minutes of movement, and almost everyone on stage is a dancer, including Richardson, Karine Plantadit (who you know from the Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away and Movin' Out), Bahiyah Hibah (a former Ailey dancer who was also in Chicago), and the reigning queen of tap, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Oh, and it's also got Emmy-nominated actor Dulé Hill (formerly Charlie Young on Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing," and currently Gus on USA Network's "Psych"), who sings and dances like he's done all this before. Which, he has...in The Tap Dance Kid and in Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk.
Adam Jacobs in Aladdin. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
After Midnight and Aladdin are also up for the night's overarching trophy, joining A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in the race for Best New Musical.
Jessie Mueller in Beautiful—The Carole King Musical. Mueller is up for Best Actress in a Musical—I really, really, really hope she wins. Photo by Joan Marcus
Be sure to tune in (or set your DVRs) on June 8 to the Tony Awards, which will be broadcast live on CBS and hosted by Broadway veteran (and Hollywood celeb) Hugh Jackman. And look in Dance Spirit's May/June issue ("Headlines," p. 19) to get the inside scoop on the evening—like what happens during commercials and how the performers prepare for the opening numbers and show excerpts.
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.