Rockette Lindsay and Mystere Dancer Arnaud
Arnaud spends hours transforming into the Green Lizard.
During the past month, Arnaud Bertrand’s gig as the Green Lizard in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère has meant whipping through two shows a night, five days a week. Through the grueling schedule, he has more to worry about than just pointing his toes and keeping on cue.
For each performance, Arnaud (along with the entire Mystère cast) has to perfectly apply elaborate makeup to complete his transformation into a surreal creature. The preparation begins hours before each show and is nearly as complex as the Green Lizard’s modern-based choreography.
Cirque du Soleil’s makeup designer, Nathalie Gagne, designed the colorful look for the Green Lizard, as well as the faces for all of Cirque’s shows since 1995. During Arnaud’s initial Cirque training in 2003 in Montreál, he knew a complex process lay ahead when Gagne handed him a 53-page booklet detailing Cirque’s makeup techniques. Makeup assistants are on hand backstage to help new performers, but the majority of the cast is responsible for applying their makeup alone.
Arnaud makes sure he eats before applying his makeup, which includes a blended base of green, blue and white creams with penciled red details around the mouth and eyes. “The process was very difficult for me,” he explains. “At first, it took two hours to apply my makeup. Now, the whole process takes me an hour.”
Arnaud typically arrives at the theater two hours before curtain. After makeup, he spends the rest of the time warming up and getting into costume. With just over a year in Mystère under his belt, Arnaud has his pre-performance ritual down to an art, which lets him concentrate on delivering a razor-sharp performance for hundreds of audience members each night. --Lisa Arnett
Taking the Stage
Lindsay settles into the season at Radio City.
On November 24, 2004, the Radio City Rockettes in Lindsay Howe’s cast traded their rigorous rehearsal schedule for an equally demanding performance schedule, with an average of three 90-minute shows danced a day. Even though this is her second year dancing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lindsay was a little jittery. “I’m just glad to get over those first nerves,” she says. “Opening night was so surreal.”
The intense rehearsal period before opening night served as a major stamina boost that helped get her body in gear. “We rehearsed seven hours a day, six days a week,” says Lindsay. A typical day began with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up led by the director, John Dietrich. “We learned the entire show in four days or so, and then we worked on cleaning it,” Lindsay says.
All of the pieces are mapped out in great detail and stored in master binders for dance captains and assistant dance captains to reference as needed. Each dancer is assigned a letter based on height for each piece. If a dancer forgets where she’s supposed to go in a section, a captain can look up her letter. “I am always in the L, M, N, O range, but I have a different letter for each [piece],” says Lindsay. “They want to make sure that our heights match sitting and standing, so in the numbers where we sit, like ‘Reindeer,’ I move up in the line because my torso is longer.”
With such a grueling schedule, it’s tough to stay energized. “I drink a lot of Red Bull,” she says. “Different people have different ways of doing it. In our dressing room, we turn on Britney Spears to get our energy level up before the third show.” (The 40 dancers in the cast are divided across five rooms.)
Lindsay is also happy to report that her knees, which were bothering her before rehearsals began, are doing well so far thanks to a biweekly Pilates regimen that includes private sessions on a Reformer. “My goal is to stay healthy, fit and uninjured,” she says.
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night: