Set on a vibrant island recovering after a massive storm, Once On This Island follows the story of a young peasant girl, Ti Moune, who falls in love with a wealthy boy. Their divided worlds tear them apart, and Ti Moune sets out on a journey, guided by the island gods, to reunite with her love. The production originally opened on Broadway in 1990 and scored eight Tony nominations. This month, the show returns to the Great White Way—with new choreography by Camille A. Brown, the founder and artistic director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers and a four-time Princess Grace Award winner. Dance Spirit caught up with Brown to see what the process has been like.
Jerome Robbins—the legendary choreographer who changed the way the world thought about both Broadway and ballet—would have been 100 years old next year. That's the kind of anniversary that calls for a great party. And New York City Ballet, one of Robbins' homes, definitely knows how to throw great parties.
NYCB will actually be honoring Robbins for three whole weeks during its 2018 spring season, dancing 19 different Robbins ballets. But the centerpiece of the celebration, the company just announced, will be a new work staged by Tony Award winner/all-around Broadway rockstar Warren Carlyle, who'll assemble extracts from eight (!) of Robbins' most famous musicals.
When Yesenia Ayala started taking Joshua Bergasse's classes at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center, she had no idea it would eventually lead to her Broadway debut. After a few classes, Bergasse pulled her aside and asked her to send him a resumé and headshot. That soon led to dancing in Bombshell: In Concert, which Bergasse choreographed. After that, Bergasse recognized her when she went to auditions. "The relationship kept getting built on those moments of seeing each other," she says. And that relationship helped her get cast in the off-Broadway production of Sweet Charity, which led to her big break in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway—both choreographed by Bergasse.
Ayala's dream-come-true story proves how important networking can be in building a dance career. Networking might look a bit different depending on whether you're a commercial dancer, a Broadway baby, or a ballerina, but it plays an important role for all types of dancers. And while the term "networking" might make you think of over-the-top self-promotion, it's really about making connections over time. "Networking is one of the most instrumental parts of building a good career," says Doug Baum, a dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. "You never know when someone might have a job for you. The dance world is small."
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
Contemporary Dancer Melanie Moore has come a long way since being named America's Favorite Dancer on Season 8 of "So You Think You Can Dance," where she became known for her captivating presence and elegant, fluid moves. In recent years, the 25-year-old has been blowing up Broadway: She originated the role of Peter Pan in Finding Neverland and starred in the most recent revival of Fiddler on the Roof as Chava. Moore started dancing at age 3 at Centre Stage School of Dance in her hometown of Marietta, GA, and later switched to Rhythm Dance Center in Marietta, where she fell in love with contemporary dance. She attended Fordham University for a year before leaving to compete on "SYTYCD" in 2011. These days, you can catch her in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! —Courtney Bowers
It's important to know about the artists who paved the way for us—especially in the musical theater world, which has been driven from the beginning by charismatic dancers and choreographers whose work continues to inspire Broadway babies. If you're a Great White Way fan, you should get to know these legendary artists, some of whom are still making moves.