Let's Talk About All That Dancing at the Oscars
I expected the borderline-inappropriate jokes. I expected the appearance by Ted (sighhhhh). I even kind of expected the tribute to boobs on film.
But what I didn't expect from Seth MacFarlane's turn as host of the Academy Awards was a whole bunch of dance numbers. Dance! And here I was thinking the Busby Berkeley-style opening to "Family Guy" was a joke! Who knew that Mr. MacFarlane, the modern master of the fart joke, was a legitimate song-and-dance man?
Anyway, I think I'm not alone in feeling that the dancing elevated what could otherwise have been a very "meh" Oscars show. Let's run down all of the fun dance-y numbers, shall we?
We got off to a strange but, let's be honest, hilarious start with the boobs song. I know, it's terrible and tasteless and everything everyone hates about Seth MacFarlane, but c'mon. It was funny, and not less so thanks to the troupe of tux-clad backup dancers.
Next up, my personal favorite: Charlize Theron (who studied at NYC's Joffrey Ballet School!) and Channing Tatum channeling Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in an elegant foxtrot that was even better for being totally unexpected.
Then we were treated to a cute little softshoe by Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Harry Potter's dance skills could use a little polishing, but points for effort—and Gordon-Levitt looked pretty darn legit. (Remember that time he redid the entire "Make 'Em Laugh" number from Singin' in the Rain on "Saturday Night Live"? I'm striking out in my search for video of the performance, but trust me: It was amazing.)
And then there was that big ol' reworking of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. It wasn't the biggest hit of the night, but I'm never really going to knock any production of a classic Disney song. Plus it featured some of DS's fave dancers, including Alex Wong, Spencer Liff, Cody Green and Jaimie Goodwin.
(I can't find any good video of this number, so you'll have to settle for a screenshot from the original instead. Just pretend Lumière is Seth MacFarlane. Not such a stretch, actually.)
Last but certainly not least: Catherine Zeta-Jones and a Fosse chorus in "All That Jazz" from Chicago. Girl's still got it! And it was another chance for our dancer friends to show off a little, too.
My only regret is that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence didn't get to re-enact their so-bad-it's-awesome dance from Silver Linings Playbook. But I guess the two of them had other things on their minds, what with being nominated for Academy Awards and everything.
(Side note: Jennifer Lawrence. You are amazing. You basically fell on your face last night and it only made everyone, myself included, love you more. I feel like you and Emma Stone and maybe Sandra Bullock should hang out and be awesome and funny and super-stylish together.)
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.