Tonight at 8 pm, Symphony Space will host Impressions IV—an evening celebrating all-things-dance. Performers include Taeler Cyrus (After Midnight), Jess LeProtto (Newsies), Michael Rosen (West Side Story), Amelia Lowe ("So You Think You Can Dance"), Phoenix Project Dance and ICONic Dance Crew ("America's Best Dance Crew"), to name a few.
Oh, and did we mention that the magnificent Chaz Buzan—assistant to Mia Michaels and DS January 2013 cover star—will perform solos throughout the evening?
Chaz Buzan (right), with Mia Michaels and fellow assistant Ryan Ramirez on the set of the DS January 2013 cover shoot (Photo by Joe Toreno)
If you've never seen Buzan perform, tonight's your chance to find out why Mia Michaels affectionately calls him a "freak of nature." (If you have seen him perform, then we don't really have to convince you...do we?)
Impressions IV is tonight at 8 pm at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space. Click here for more info and to buy your tickets. Portions of ticket proceeds benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
And to tide you over in the meantime, here's a video of Chaz Buzan performing "My Heart," choreographed by TOKYO, at the KARtv Awards in Las Vegas:
In case you missed the best night on TV—a.k.a the live broadcast of the Tony Awards—Dance Spirit's got your back. Here's a rundown of the show's highlights, a couple of its more cringe-worthy moments, and some of our favorite (and least-favorite) red carpet outfits.
Hugh Jackman with the cast of After Midnight
(photo Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)
–Hugh Jackman as host. It's great to see Wolverine back on the Radio City Music Hall Stage, singing and dancing with the stars of Broadway. He even cut a rug with Dulé Hill and the fabulous cast of After Midnight. Sure, his opening number (with all that awkward hopping) wasn't as fabulous as NPH's extravaganza last year, but his serenading of the female best actress nominees—in both the play and musical categories—stole my heart.
Bryce Pinkham (center) and the cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
(photo Heather Wines/CBS)
–The performances, obv. After Midnight, Aladdin and Bullets Over Broadway were especially impressive—so. much. tap. dancing. And here's to genie James Monroe Iglehart's win for best featured actor in a musical. But I was especially enamored with the performance from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder—the Tony winner for best musical. In case you chose to take your bathroom break during the number, you can re-watch it here. There's not much movement, but the witty trio really brought down the house.
–The crazy Music Man rap. My viewing party went pretty nuts when Hugh Jackman busted some rhymes from The Music Man—and then even more nuts when LL Cool J and T.I. joined in. The beats—commemorating the song "Rock Island" from 1957's The Music Man, supposedly the first-ever rap—came courtesy of Questlove of The Roots. (Pretty cool.) Here's the song in the 1962 film; compare it to the Tony Award shenanigans here.
Melanie Moore with Jennifer Hudson in Finding Neverland. (photo Heather Wines/CBS)
–Melanie Moore as Peter Pan. When Finding Neverland hits the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, this summer, "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 8 winner (and DS cover star) Melanie Moore will get the opportunity to work with Mia Michaels again: Mama Mia will be choreographing the new musical. The full cast has been announced (helloooo, Jeremy Jordan!). Unfortunately, Jennifer Hudson, who sang in last night's preview, is not in the show.
Jessie Mueller (left) with Carole King. (photo Heather Wines/CBS)
–Jessie Mueller and Carole King together (again) on one stage. I certainly felt the Earth move under my feet during this performance. Jessie Mueller is fantastic as the iconic singer/songwriter Carole King in Beautiful, and I suspect she'll be fantastic in roles to come. Congrats on your Tony for best leading actress in a musical, Jessie!
–The dreamy Matthew Bomer announcing a new Tony Awards partnership with his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. Next year the Tonys will celebrate one elementary, middle or high school theater teacher who really makes a difference. Know someone who you think deserves special recognition? Read about the new award here.
Jenni Barber (left) and Christine Dwyer (photo Heather Wines/CBS)
The Missed Opportunities:
–Wicked's 10th anniversary performance. Yes, Christine Dwyer and Jenni Barber sang an amazing rendition of "For Good." But weren't you just a little disappointed that Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth didn't pop out to sing a line or two? I mean, we know Idina was there—she sang something from her new musical If/Then. Lame, Tony Awards. Lame.
–The absent-from-TV award for best choreography. Remember last year, when we got to see Jerry Mitchell accept his choreography award on TV? Apparently the producers forgot about that precedent, and After Midnight's Warren Carlyle received his award for best choreography during a commercial break. Boooooo! Maybe if we give his acceptance speech video a ton of online views, the producers will get the point for next year.
The Best Dressed:
The history-making Audra McDonald, who took home her sixth Tony Award. She also became the first performer to win in all four acting categories (featured musical, featured play, leading musical and leading play). Yeah, she's legendary—and stylish to boot, in this pretty printed gown. (photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)
The always effortlessly gorgeous Sutton Foster. She didn't leave with a win, but her performance for Violet was strong.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)
And the Worst:
The flashy Fran Drescher. She may be on Broadway in Cinderella, but believe it or not, this over-the-top tangerine dress is not a costume.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)
The weighed-down Kate Mara. This dress just looks heavy. Here's hoping Netflix turns "House of Cards" into a musical so Kate can redeem her look as a Tonys presenter next year.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)
What did you think of the telecast? Which performance was your favorite, and who did you think was best dressed? Was any show or artist robbed of an award? We want to hear what you have to say!
The Tony Awards (airing this Sunday night!) recognize a lot of Broadway talent: actors, directors, sound designers, lighting designers, writers, composers, and our favorites, choreographers. But we all know that the true muscle behind every amazing musical is the dancers. And they rarely get Tony nominations. (Unless they happen to be the fabulous Karine Plantadit, who earned a best featured actress nomination in 2010 for her dance-heavy role in Come Fly Away.)
Enter the Fred & Adele Astaire Awards. Each June, the Astaire Awards recognize Broadway's best of the best—in jazz, tap, or character shoes. The 2014 ceremony was held last night in NYC, and the star-studded event didn't disappoint. Here are the best moments from the oh-so-dancey evening:
Jared Grimes in After Midnight (photo by Matthew Murphy)
1. Jared Grimes' performance. Grimes currently stars in After Midnight. He opened the show with a display of his signature lightning-fast tapping and hip-hop swag fusion that later earned him the Astaire Award for best male dancer. (After Midnight was the big winner of the entire evening: Plantadit and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards tied for best female dancer, and lanky Englishman Warren Carlyle won the award for best choreography. Seriously, go see this show!)
2. Angel Inniss' stellar layouts in her jazzy solo "Mr. Paganini." Man, can this senior dancer from Spotlight Studio of Dance in Maryland work a stage! Angel took home the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation's Adele Astaire College Scholarship. Congrats, Angel!
3. The presentation of the Outstanding Contribution to Dance Education Award to Luigi, the father of jazz dance (and the father of "5,6,7,8"!), and presentation of the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award to Patricia Birch. You know Patricia Birch for this choreography:
Greased Lightning! John Travolta and company in Grease
And this choreography:
Steve Martin and Gilda Radner cut a rug in “Dancing in the Dark” on “Saturday Night Live”
Of course, these are just two small snippets of this choreographer's CV, and Patricia Birch hasn't stopped moving (to quote Luigi) or choreographing. Her work can currently be seen on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." Which brings us to top moment 4:
4. Legendary actor (and star of "Boardwalk Empire") Steve Buscemi making a surprise appearance to pay tribute to Patricia Birch for her work on the show. Best of all? We got to see a stage rendition of one of the acts from "Boardwalk." Take a look at the number in this clip from the show, and see if you can find our gal Chloe Arnold. Spoiler alert: Jared Grimes also performs!
5. Nancy Chippendale's Dance Studio tappers big finale. These teen dancers—there were more than 45 onstage!—from North Andover, MA, sure know how to stay in formation, while flapping and tapping in perfect unison. Their number "Glam" was the perfect finish to a truly glamorous event.
Let's hope Sunday's Tony Awards (8 pm on CBS) includes at least half this much dancing!
16 days until this year's Tony Awards!
We can hardly wait, so we've been making some predictions to pass the time. Sure, we've spent some time debating which nominee will take home the Tony for our favorite category, Best Choreography. (Will it be Bullets Over Broadway, Rocky, Aladdin, or After Midnight???) But what we really care about is the ceremony itself. I mean, no one knows how to put on a spectacular awards show quite like a room full of Broadway's brightest. We're dying to know: Who's gonna open the ceremony? What excerpts will the nominated shows choose to perform? What other celebs can we expect to see up on that stage?
Well just this morning, Michael Riedel of The New York Post filled us in on some of the deets:
After Midnight will open the show—a coveted honor.
Virgil "Lil' O" Gadson (center) and Karine Plantadit (right) dance it out in After Midnight (photo by Matthew Murphy)
Jessie Mueller of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will perform a song from the musical. (Hopeful rumors suggest Carole King will join her.)
Jessie Mueller in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (photo by AP)
And Sting will preview a couple of songs from his upcoming musical The Last Ship.
(Photo by Frank Ockenfels)
We still have so many questions, though. Most importantly, will we get to see "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin? (Please, Disney, please!)
Make sure to tune in to the 68th Annual Tony Awards—airing June 8 on CBS at 8pm EST—to see what other surprises are in store.
Kate Baldwin and Norbert Leo Butz in Susan Stroman's late but great Big Fish. Photo by Paul Kolnik
The 2014 Tony Award nominations came out Tuesday morning, and for us dancers—and the categories we love and care about—it's been an exciting (and somewhat surprising) whirlwind. Here's our rundown of the nominees:
The female ensemble of Bullets Over Broadway. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Big Fish—my personal favorite dance-tastic show this season—did not make the Tony grade, earning no nominations, despite genius direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. (Did the aging American Theater Wing and Broadway League reps forget it was eligible since it closed late last year? Hellloooo...it was awesome!) We can't be too upset for the great and zany Stro, though. Her newest smash hit, Bullets Over Broadway, starring Zach Braff (aka J.D. from "Scrubs"), earned six nominations, including nods for choreography, scenic design, and costume design—all quite deserving.
Karine Plantadit in After Midnight, choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Other dancemakers up for the prize of best choreography: Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine for Rocky, Casey Nicholaw for Aladdin, and Warren Carlyle for After Midnight.
Dulé Hill (center) and the cast of After Midnight. Photo by Matthew Murphy
If you're a tap fan, a jazz fan, a Desmond Richardson fan, or a plain "I LOVE DANCE SO MUCH" fan, After Midnight is the show for you. It's 90 minutes of movement, and almost everyone on stage is a dancer, including Richardson, Karine Plantadit (who you know from the Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away and Movin' Out), Bahiyah Hibah (a former Ailey dancer who was also in Chicago), and the reigning queen of tap, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Oh, and it's also got Emmy-nominated actor Dulé Hill (formerly Charlie Young on Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing," and currently Gus on USA Network's "Psych"), who sings and dances like he's done all this before. Which, he has...in The Tap Dance Kid and in Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk.
Adam Jacobs in Aladdin. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
After Midnight and Aladdin are also up for the night's overarching trophy, joining A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in the race for Best New Musical.
Jessie Mueller in Beautiful—The Carole King Musical. Mueller is up for Best Actress in a Musical—I really, really, really hope she wins. Photo by Joan Marcus
Be sure to tune in (or set your DVRs) on June 8 to the Tony Awards, which will be broadcast live on CBS and hosted by Broadway veteran (and Hollywood celeb) Hugh Jackman. And look in Dance Spirit's May/June issue ("Headlines," p. 19) to get the inside scoop on the evening—like what happens during commercials and how the performers prepare for the opening numbers and show excerpts.
Broadway Week is definitely one of the most magical times of the year. Why? Because through February 6, many Broadway tickets are now 2 for the price of 1. The best musicals ever for half the price? AMAZING. Now's your chance to catch up on the latest and greatest on the Great White Way. Click here for the full list of participating shows. And here are our must-see options with a little video inspiration:
After Midnight. Because Duke Ellington, tap dancing and so many split leaps.
Chicago the Musical. Because you loved the movie, and live is better. (And it's now starring Bebe Neuwirth as Matron Mama Morton!)
Matilda the Musical. Because look at all the cuties!
Newsies. Because it's still the danciest show on Broadway.
Pippin. Because Fosse.