Well, the moment we've been dreading has arrived: Yesterday, Newsies ended its Broadway run, after its 1,005th show. Of course, this isn't the show's true ending(!), Newsies kicks off its national tour this October. Still, the closing was an incredible event. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at the Nederlander Theater, and while the afternoon ended on a teary note, the show couldn't have gone out with a bigger bang. Here are just a few of the ingredients that helped make the final performance so spectacular:
5. The fans. Newsies held a lottery for a limited number of tickets to the final show. This is how many #Fansies showed up:
4. Sitting with celebs. To quote an awestruck (and totally correct) girl sitting behind me, I got to "share the same breathing air" with former Newsies dancers—including Alex Wong, Ryan Steele, JP Ferreri, Mike Faist, Ryan Breslin and Jess LeProtto. Oh, and also director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Christopher Gattelli.
3. The dancers' energy. It's been a long time since I've seen so many dancers on one stage give as much love to the choreography as the guys did yesterday. Every battement was 180-degrees. Every back flip went soaring.
Every split jump by every dancer literally looked like this:
Iain Young (photo by Matthew Murphy)
Which brings me to number 2...
2. The standing ovations. The audience (starting with my crew in rows D–F) leapt to its feet after every deserving number—which, of course, was all of them. The energy in the theater was buzzing.
1. The final curtain call. There was not a dry eye in the house—or onstage. It was heart wrenching—and heart warming!—to watch Newsies come to a close, especially since many members of the current cast had been part of it since day one. (I'm looking at you, Aaron Albano!) And after the final bow by Corey Cott (you know him as Jack Kelly), the creative team also walked onstage to take a bow, and everyone totally lost it.
Take a look at the last dance number and curtain call, and I dare you not to tear up, too:
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!
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
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.