Shrek on the Broadway Stage
If the three movie versions weren't enough for you, now you can catch Shrek on the Great White Way. The loveable green ogre makes his stage debut in Shrek The Musical, now playing at NYC's Broadway Theatre. The show opened in previews this week and I was there last night. Here's a recap:
The creative team did a wonderful job of translating the show from an animated film to a full on Broadway production. Shrek, played by Brian D'arcy James, plays the role dead-on. The costuming is done so elaborately well that you often forget the story came from an animation to begin with. One of the movie's most adored characters — Donkey — is hilariously played by Daniel Breaker. Nearly every line of his had the audience cracking up. There's plenty of humor for the 18+ crowd mixed in with the gentle, G-rated nature of the show as a whole.
Broadway superstar Sutton Foster plays the role of Princess Fiona. She's down-to-earth, quirky and can belt out tunes like "I Know It's Today" and "Morning Person" with an unprecedented ease. It's no wonder she's such a sought-after performer in the Broadway world. She's also gorgeous, as a princess and an ogre.
For me, the best parts of the show were those involving the fairy tale characters, who get banned from Duloc at the demands of Lord Farquaad. In the January 2009 issue of Dance Spirit, we even have a Q&A with ensemble member Denny Paschall, who plays the role of Peter Pan (among many others throughout the show). He's amazingly talented and a gifted singer and dancer. Keep an eye out for this rising star!
Lord Farquaad was the crowd favorite last night. Played by Christopher Sieber (you may remember him as Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's dad on "Two of a Kind"), he's so funny with his "Daddy issues" and short-person complex.
My one gripe about the show is that it's two and a half hours long. I'm hoping that by the time the show opens, it's shorter. The scenery is great, the costuming is wonderful and the music is singalong-worthy. But two and a half hours after Donkey and the ogre first took the stage, I was in dire need of a nap!
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.