Nothing Beats Broadway Music
I love music. I am always listening to it. During competition and recital season at my studio, the best days were the days when the teacher announced what song we'd be dancing to. I thrived on it. I have playlists on my iPod for everything: running, walking to work, relaxing, getting ready to go out at night, getting ready for work in the morning. I even have a specific playlist to listen to during the week we ship Dance Spirit to the printer every month.
One of my favorite (and most-listened to) playlists is my "Broadway" playlist. It's got everything on it from Les Miserables to Memphis, and just about every song gives me chills. Here at DS, we spend so much time (seriously, SO much time) obsessing over the dancers in Broadway shows and not enough time talking about the songs that they're belting out while they're moving. As important as the choreography is in a show, the music is equally, if not more so, crucial for the story. It's the music that makes you feel happy, sad, empathetic, or whatever the actors want you to feel. I'm especially into my Broadway playlist right now because we're in the process of putting together the July/August Broadway issue of DS!
Because many of you are probably home from school today (take advantage of snow days—you don't get them after college!), I recommend using your day to further expand your iTunes. Here's a list of my favorite Broadway songs for you to download:
- "I'm Alive" from Next to Normal. Aaron Tveit (You know and love him from "Gossip Girl"—he plays Tripp Van Der Bilt.) has the voice of an angel. Seriously. Gorgeous and talented? Yes, please!
- "21 Guns" from American Idiot. The show hasn't even opened on Broadway yet and already I'm completely obsessed with the cast recording of this Green Day song. I can't wait to see the show!
- Everything from Rock of Ages. It's 80s and it's awesome.
- "We Are the Altar Boyz" from Altar Boyz. This long-running show just closed Off-Broadway, but the music lives on. It's part goofy boy band, part MTV.
- "Electricity" from Billy Elliot. Billy's love for dancing is infectious. Listen to him song this song and just try not start swaying along and rooting for him.
- "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. I'll be honest, it's the movie version of this song that I really love. It's a hilarious display of girl power in a twisted, violent sort of way. But hey, it's catchy.
- "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line. What song better captures the struggles that aspiring professional dancers face when auditioning for jobs? "A 5, 6, 7, 8!"
- "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" from HAIR. Another chills-inducing song. If you've seen the show, you've just been on an emotional roller coaster ride. This song sums it all up perfectly.
- "It Won't Be Long Now" from In the Heights. This is my favorite Broadway show. I am in love with every second of it. The writing is brilliant, the cast is always brilliant and Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography is brilliant. But it's the heartfelt songs that really get me. This one, recorded by powerhouse Karen Olivo, is about wanting to make a change for yourself and doing whatever you can to make it happen. How motivating!
- "96,000" from In the Heights. I love this entire soundtrack. But this is my FAVORITE Broadway song. When I first heard it, I listened to it on repeat for days. It's addicting.
- "Walk Like a Man" from Jersey Boys. I grew up listening to oldies music with my dad. This song is classic.
- "So Much Better" from Legally Blonde the Musical. I always listen to this when I'm running because it pushes me. I run faster when it comes on. What's more fun than rooting for Elle Woods?!
- "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. I think everyone knows this song. You've seen the show or the movie, you've seen Donyelle and Benji dance to it on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 2 or you're one of the hundreds of dancers who has performed to it at competition. It's fun and lively. Simple as that.
- "Steal Your Rock 'n Roll" from Memphis. This show has amazing music. The cast can seriously belt it out. It's so impressive.
- "Seasons of Love" from RENT. Is there anyone who doesn't love this song? I don't think so. It's classic.
- "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. Duh.
- "I'll Cover You," "Light My Candle" and "No Day but Today" from RENT. One of my college roommates loved RENT. She also loved singing. Translation: I learned the lyrics to all these songs pretty quickly! And I still love them.
OK, and it's not Broadway, but if you haven't already, you must start obsessing over the entire "Glee" soundtrack. We're all on board with it already—won't you join us? A few standouts: "Don't Stop Believin'," "Don't Rain on my Parade," "Halo/Walking On Sunshine" and "Somebody to Love." Want more "Glee?" Wait for the May/June issue of DS!
What are your favorite Broadway tunes? Click here and let us know!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.
Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.
But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.
Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.
There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.
Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.