It was just announced that Disney is going to make live-action versions of both The Lion King and Aladdin, two animated movies that defined a big ol' chunk of our childhood. (Seriously: Soooo many long car trips were saved by listening to cassettes—cassettes!—of those soundtracks on repeat.) That's happy but not necessarily surprising news: Disney's already given us live-action takes on Cinderella and The Jungle Book; the real-people Beauty and the Beast is coming in just a few months; and a live-action Mulan is in the works, too.
But here's the thing about Aladdin and The Lion King: Fabulous musical versions of those stories are currently blowing up Broadway. And a HUGE part of their Great White Way success is due to the fantastic choreographic minds of Garth Fagan (Lion King) and Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin).
A scene from the musical version of Aladdin. How amazing would this choreo look on the big screen?? (Photo Deen van Meer/Disney)
Soooo, Disney: Can we get a little Broadway-Hollywood crossover action here, and bring Fagan and Nicholaw on board the film projects? That'd be a win-win scenario—the movies would benefit from the genius of these two world-class pros, who already have oodles of experience with these stories, and Fagan and Nicholaw's work would get large-scale exposure. Pretty please?
There's about to be a new Nutcracker in town—and by "in town," I mean "in movie theaters."
This weekend, it came out that Disney is developing a big-screen version of the holiday classic. But if you're imagining animated mice and snowflakes and sugar plums—or an expanded version of the vaguely creepy Fantastia "Nutcracker" sequence, with its dancing mushrooms—think again. Instead, the new project, titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, will be a live-action film directed by Lasse Hallstrom.
Hallstrom is the guy behind films like What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules, which aren't exactly light, kid-friendly fare. So this Nutcracker might be more shadowy than your average ballet company's production. (It sounds like the script will draw from E.T.A. Hoffman's original story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, more heavily than most ballets do—and good grief, that story is all kinds of intense.)
But...will there be any dancing involved? Will we hear bits and pieces of Tchaikovsky's score? Will this Nutcracker movie be as terribly terrible as The Nutcracker in 3D, which even Elle Fanning couldn't save? Will the film siphon audiences away from ballet productions, or will the whole thing be good for the ballet world? Will Macaulay Culkin make a cameo?? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
They can't get rid of the snow scene...can they? (New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Photo by Paul Kolnik.)
No cast or release date info yet, but we'll keep you posted!
It's easy to forget that Gabe De Guzman and Kaycee Rice are kids.
They're seasoned professionals with crazy-good resumés. They're the stars of pretty much every dance class they set foot in. They're some of the savviest self-marketers around, always finding new ways to grow their (already huge) fan base.
But yes: They're also just barely teenagers. So it's kind of fun that their latest video, "CLUBHOUSE," lets them get in touch with their silly-kid side.
Choreographed by Janelle Ginestra, the vid features Gabe and Kaycee doing their best Mickey and Minnie Mouse impressions to a medley of Disney and Disney-inspired ("Hey Mickey," anyone?) songs. Scooters, hot dogs and lots of special-effect sparkles are involved. And the dancing is, of course, everything we've come to expect from a De Guzman/Rice/Ginestra production.
It seems like only yesterday we were raving about the super-adorable Disney Channel original Teen Beach Movie. In reality, though, it’s been close to two whole years since the made-for-TV musical had our hearts singing with its summery dance-filled numbers. Choreographed by Christopher Scott (of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “LXD” fame), it featured “SYT” alums Kent Boyd and Mollee Gray and our gorgeous L.A. tour guide, Jessica Lee Keller.
Teen Beach 2! (Disney Channel/Francisco Roman)
It’s about time for another, right? Teen Beach 2 hits the small screen this Friday, and Scott is back at the dance-helm of this surf-inspired spectacular. Dance Spirit spoke with him about the sequel.
Dance Spirit: Do you have a favorite part of Teen Beach 2?
Christopher Scott: “Gotta Be Me.” It’s really a dancer’s number. It takes place in a gymnasium, and I was able to showcase everyone’s individual talents. I found out what everyone was capable of when making the first film, so this time around I was able to push the dancers to their ultimate limits.
Christopher Scott (center, pointing) choreographing "Gotta Be Me" for Teen Beach 2 (Disney Channel/Francisco Roman)
DS: Creating musical numbers for Disney seems pretty different from your other projects, like “The LXD.”
CS: It is, but the theater world is where I fell in love with dance. I’m actually a big musical theater nerd. Teen Beach has a lot of references to West Side Story, and that’s the first musical I performed in.
DS: Is your process different when you’re creating work for “SYT” compared to Teen Beach?
CS: No matter what I’m doing, there’s a story involved and a reason for the dance. When I’m working with the dancers on “SYT,” I don’t really take into account of what the dancers are or aren’t able to do—it’s a contest and they have to live up to expectations. But when I’m choreographing for something like Teen Beach, I’ll tailor the movement to the dancers I’m working with. There’s more collaboration.
DS: Do you have any advice for Dance Spirit readers who are hoping to work in Hollywood?
CS: Take advantage of all the new technology and platforms available today. You can easily shoot a movie on your iPhone in your living room—just go out and start making work. There’s no reason not to get started now.
Check out the trailer for Teen Beach 2 below, then set your DVRs for Friday, June 26 to catch the premiere!
Disney + Broadway is pretty much always a winning combination. I mean, right now we've got The Lion King, an old standby that's been selling out shows since its 1997 opening, and Aladdin, the (relatively) new kid on the block that also happens to be my absolute favorite thing on Broadway. And that's not to mention Newsies, currently on tour, which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Choreography.
Clearly, DS loves putting Disney on Broadway on our covers! (L) The boys of Newsies on our July/August 2012 cover (by Jacob Pritchard); (R) The ladies of Aladdin on our July/August 2014 cover (by Erin Baiano)
If you think about it, the best Disney songs sort of beg for a grandiose theatrical production. Aladdin's "Never Had A Friend Like Me" wants a tap break. Beauty and the Beast's "Be Our Guest" needs a kickline. Mulan's "Be a Man" could really use some epic formation changes. And I'm imagining flashing blue lights and dancing snowflakes for Frozen's "Let It Go."
But YouTube maven Todrick Hall doesn't need all that flash—or any other cast members, for that matter—to pull off a full-on Disney-meets-Broadway extravaganza...because his very essence is Disney-meets-Broadway.
Last week, he released "Evolution of Disney," a video that takes us from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937—the very first Disney feature film) to Frozen (2013) in about five minutes. I especially appreciate his inclusion of certain Disney Channel originals, like High School Musical, Zenon Girl of the 21st Century and The Cheetah Girls. Like his glorious Beyoncé tribute, the video features a four-way split screen, with Hall performing a four-part harmony and, naturally, four-part choreo.
Enough talk. Check it out for yourselves!
Just imagine what he'd be like LIVE. If you like the sound of that, we've got good news: Todrick Hall is going on an international tour this summer! Click here to watch the trailer for The Toddlerz Ball Tour and here to view the schedule and buy tickets. See you there!
We love these guys so much we just HAD to put them on our July/August 2012 cover. (Photo by Jacob Pritchard)
Have we mentioned lately that we're obsessed with the Broadway show Newsies? OK, maybe we have once or twice (or maybe it was three times). But can you blame us? I mean, Disney sure knows how to put on a completely dance-tastic show. If you've seen it, you can probably relate to that overwhelming desire to get up out of your seat and seize the day right alongside these über-talented dancers.
Disney has capitalized on that urge as a part of its new "Get Up and Go" campaign. The idea behind it is pretty self-explanatory: It's about using dance—specifically Broadway dance—to get kids moving. Since December, Newsies cast members have been visiting participating NYC schools to talk to students about healthy living and to teach them some of the choreography from the show. (Jealous!)
This week, Disney released a free online tutorial with Newsies choreographer Christopher Gattelli teaching a section of "Seize the Day." Now you don't have to be in one of those NYC schools to get in on the fun! Oh, and they got none other than Michelle Obama to introduce the tutorial. Super casual. If you think about it, it makes sense—"Get Up and Go" has a similar mission to the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign.
The cast will also include live tutorials in select cities as a part of their upcoming national tour. And this is just the beginning: Disney plans to continue "Get Up and Go" with Aladdin and The Lion King in 2015.
Look out for Gattelli and select cast members on "Good Morning America" this Tuesday, July 22. They'll be teaching the choreo to a live audience in NYC's Times Square. And in the meantime, check out the tutorial below, and get dancin'!
Believe it or not, I'm not gonna gush about my love of animation dance today (as much as I would love to bombard you with a plethora of Marquese Scott videos). Instead, I want to talk about something equally mind-blowing: animated dance.
Artist and animator Glen Keane worked with Disney for 38 years; he's the mastermind behind beloved characters such as Aladdin, Ariel, the Beast, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Rapunzel. Since leaving Disney in 2012, Keane has been working on a new project: an animated short for Google Advanced Technology and Projects' Spotlight Stories.
Duet, Keane's short and the third story in Google's series, follows the lives of Mia and Tosh, whose paths weave and intertwine as they grow up. The result? A sweet and charming pas de deux of sorts. Much to our delight, Mia becomes a beautiful ballerina at several points throughout the film. But here's the thing: It's entirely composed of graphite drawings—10,555 drawings, or 60 drawings per one second of animation, to be specific. That's a lot of drawings.
Can you imagine breaking up each second of a grand jeté, for example, into 60 frames? How about a pirouette? You've got to have a serious understanding of movement to accomplish that successfully. And Keane does just that.
In a lecture at the California Institute of the Arts last January, Keane explained the extremely involved process of animating dance. His take home message? It's the in-between moments—the moments that take you from standing to grand jeté—that really count. He calls it the "juice" behind the pose. Sound familiar? Perhaps dance and animation aren't all that different, after all. (To watch the full lecture, click here. We highly recommend it!)
And now, without further ado, our feature presentation, Duet:
The Newsies boys will be seizing the day in 25 cities across the U.S. (photo Matthew Murphy)
Today brings both good and bad news. Go grab a tissue, because the bad news is first.
Got one? OK. This just in: Newsies is closing. In two months. After a final show on August 24, the Disney musical extravaganza will leave it's home at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway, meaning there are only 72 performances left.
Ready for some good news? The 2-year-old show isn't gone for good. Newsies will embark on a 25-city national tour, beginning this October in Schenectady, NY. As of now, the tour plans to finish next August in Toronto. But when Newsies opened on Broadway back in 2012, it was only scheduled to have 101 performances. By August 24, 2014, it will have exceeded that number by 904 shows—and 904 standing ovations. Something tells me this musical isn't going away quietly in a year.
For now, the on-sale date for Newsies tour tickets hasn't been announced. But click here to see if the show is coming to a city near you, and sign up to get emailed ticket alerts.