Dance News

Pop quiz! Who's getting really excited for this Sunday's Tony Awards?

a) The Broadway community.

b) Your grandma.

c) Anybody who loves dance.

d) ME ME OMG ME.

e) All of the above.

The correct answer, of course, is E. But let's put special emphasis on C here for a minute, shall we? Because the official lineup of Tony Award performers was recently announced, and holy LaDucas is it ever jam-packed with dance.

Oh yeah. There's gonna be a LOT of this. (Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in An American in Paris; photo Sara Krulwich/New York Times)

First of all, there'll just be more performers on stage, period, than at any previous Tony Awards. And since this was a particularly glorious year for dance on Broadway, a lot of them are going to be world-class dancers.

Top highlights include:

-the American in Paris mashup of "An American in Paris (pas de deux)," "'S Wonderful" and "I Got Rhythm," featuring Tony nominees Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild doing fellow nominee Christopher Wheeldon's choreo;

-On the Town's medley of "Lucky to Be Me," "New York, New York" and "Times Square Ballet," with choreography by Josh Bergasse performed by Tony nom Tony Yazbeck and the stellar ensemble (hi Ricky Ubeda!);

-"Stronger" from Finding Neverland, featuring Mr. Schue Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer doing Mia Michaels' oh-so-Mia choreography.

In case you're wondering what Mia choreo on Broadway looks like, here's a sneak preview. (The cast of Finding Neverland; photo Sara Krulwich/New York Times)

Also, Kirstin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming—whom I'd like to present with a pre-Tonys award for Broadway People I'd Like to Be Best Friends With (prize is a selfie with yours truly; COME FIND ME TO CLAIM IT!)—will be hosting. So, that'll be great, obviously.

Click here for the full list of performances, and be sure to catch all the musical theater action this Sunday at 8 pm ET on CBS.

Dance News

Ahhh you guys—it's really happening! Ricky Ubeda, aka America's Favorite Dancer, aka owner of the most ridiculous pair of legs this side of Svetlana Zakharova, is joining the cast of Broadway's On the Town next Friday, February 27th!

OK, yes: The OTT role was technically part of his prize as the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance." So this is not, in the strict sense of the word, news. But Broadway shows are a a fickle business; there was always a chance that the blessed event might not actually occur.

We did a little heel-click for joy when we heard that the date for Ubeda's Broadway debut had been set—especially since his cheek-pinchable brand of cuteness is just right for the old-school world of OTT. He was basically born to be a sailor, amirite? Or at least to wear sailor whites, as we saw during choreographer Josh Bergasse's OTT-inspired Broadway routine for Season 11's Top 20. (Just look at him being adorable there in the back row!)

Ubeda will perform in the show through April 26. Get your tickets now, people! And in the meantime, take a look at a few of the OTT-inspired shots we just happened to take at Ubeda's cover shoot. #Sorrynotsorry for the Photoshopped sailor hats.

Original photos by Lucas Chilczuk for Dance Spirit

Dance News

Season 2 of "city.ballet."—the AOL On series that gives an insider's look at New York City Ballet—is live now! We're recapping one episode per week. Watch all 12 at dancemagazine.com.

In Episode 4 of "city.ballet." we meet the newest dance power couple: Sara Mearns and Josh Bergasse. She's a New York City Ballet principal, he's the Broadway choreographer behind On the Town—it's almost like a true-life Romeo and Juliet (minus the whole dueling families and death stuff). Are you a fan of cute rom-coms? You'll love this one. Here are five things we learn in the ep:

1. Mearns spent eight months off recuperating from a very serious back injury. But watch out, ballet world: She says she feels stronger, freer and more confident in her dancing than she did before her injury. (And she looks simply amazing, too.)

Sara Mearns and Chase Finlay rehearsing George Balanchine's Mozartiana. Photo courtesy AOL ON

2. In the last year, things have moved pretty fast for Mearns. She started dating Bergasse, the two moved into a pretty great apartment together (um, hello, view!) and everything's going swimmingly.

3. It is possible to date a dancer. Mearns explains what makes it work: "He's in the dance world, but not in my dance world." That. Makes. So. Much. Sense.

She's even gorgeous simply drinking coffee on her couch.

4. When you date a choreographer, he'll make ballets for you. We see Bergasse creating a piece for the Dancers Responding to AIDS Fire Island Dance Festival starring none other than his main squeeze. It's full of old-school musical theater kicks, lifts and flips.

Mearns in Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

5. There may be the pitter-patter of little feet (and not the tap dancing kind) in the NYCB studios someday. Mearns spills the beans on camera: She totally wants to get married and have a family with Bergasse. Oh, what's that? He might not know that yet? Well, now he does. (And from what we've seen of this couple's relationship, we doubt he minds.)

Click the image below to watch the full episode!

Joshua Bergasse

Choreographer Joshua Bergasse has been breaking new ground for dance on the small screen on the Broadway-themed TV show “Smash.” Though his success on “Smash” has recently made him a household dance name, Bergasse has been a successful musical theater pro for more than 15 years, touring and performing on Broadway before moving on to choreograph musicals across the country. NYC’s in-the-know dancers have religiously taken his classes at Broadway Dance Center for years, and Bergasse has also taught at major dance conventions including Tremaine and West Coast Dance Explosion.

What inspires Bergasse? Read on to find out.

West Side Story on Broadway (by Joan Marcus)

 

 

“My all-time favorite project was performing the original Jerome Robbins choreography while on tour with West Side Story. To this day, when I get stuck while choreographing, I just think about that choreography.”

 

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec in George Balanchine’s Rubies (by Angela Sterling)

 

“I like to go to the ballet a lot, especially to see works by George Balanchine or Twyla Tharp. I’m usually story-focused, but at the ballet, I’m so fascinated by the movement quality—the control and strength of the dancers—that I don’t need a story.”

 

Bergasse (second from left) in a rehearsal scene from “Smash” (Patrick Harbron/NBC)

 

 

 

“Right now I’m most inspired by the dancers in the ‘Smash’ cast. I like nothing better than walking into a studio of fantastic dancers who are staring back at me saying, ‘What are we gonna do?’ “

 

Jack Cole with Marilyn Monroe (courtesy Dance Magazine Archive)

 

 

“I love the ‘golden age’ MGM musicals, like An American in Paris and The Band Wagon, and choreographers from that era, especially Jack Cole. Cole’s choreography is quick, earthy and sexy. He’s a huge inspiration for me, especially on “Smash,” because he was Marilyn Monroe’s choreographer.”

 

Bergasse, his mom and his Emmy Award

 

 

 

 

“My mom, Annette, was my dance teacher, and she was really into theater, so that’s where my love for musicals comes from.”

 

 

"Glee" (by Eddy Chen/FOX)

 

 

 

"I love that dance is back on TV and in movies. I watch 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'Glee.' I want to see more of it!"

 

 

Ivy and dancers in “Let’s
Be Bad” (by Will Hart/NBC)

 

“My favorite number I’ve done on ‘Smash’ is ‘Let’s Be Bad’ for Episode 5 of the first season. It was about Marilyn Monroe losing control but wanting to stay on top, and it mirrored something that was happening with another character, Ivy. When I have a great story to tell, the choreography just flows right out of me.”

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

 

 

 

“My favorite Marilyn Monroe musical is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The production numbers are fantastic.”

 

 

 

(courtesy allcdcovers.com)

 

 

“I’m a huge jazz freak. I love Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Lillian Hardin Armstrong and John Coltrane. I use their music to calm me down between pieces I’m choreographing.”

 

Dance News

Calling all "Smash" lovers! The song and dance-filled drama is back with an all-new season starting tomorrow. In honor of this joyous occasion, we've decided to share our Top 5 reasons why you have to tune in.

1. Former Newsies hunk Jeremy Jordan joins the cast as Karen's (Katharine McPhee) love interest—which means there's a good chance we'll be swooning every single episode. (I grinned like a fool for an entire two hours watching him in Newsies.)

2. J-Hud is also joining the cast as a mentor/friend to Karen. Girl's got pipes and a slammin' bod. (I seriously love her Weight Watchers commercials—weird, I know.)

3. You know choreographer Josh Bergasse is bound to deliver some killer musical theater numbers. I mean, the guy took home a 2012 Outstanding Choreography Emmy for his work on the show! (Find out what inspires Bergasse in his Choreographer's Collage in the April 2013 issue.)

4. All of the Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen drama. Ivy's so sassy—and I just can't get enough.

5. The amazing up-and-coming dancers that are about to become household names. (We love all of the stellar performers we've discovered through "Smash," like Lexy Hulme!)

Watch the two-hour Season 2 premiere tomorrow February 5 at 9/8c on NBC! Then, of course, come tell us what you thought in the comment section below! And if you just can't wait until tomorrow, here's a (45-minute!) sneak peek.

I'll admit it: I have a big ol' girl crush on Megan Hilty. The gorgeous blonde may play an actress auditioning for a Marilyn Monroe musical in the new TV series "Smash," which premieres February 6 on NBC, but she's not your typical Marilyn-esque bombshell. Hilty's an intelligent performer with a serious voice, who in real life has already had star turns on Broadway in shows like 9 to 5 and Wicked. I was able to chat with Hilty for a few minutes this morning, during one of her rare breaks from "Smash"'s busy shooting schedule. (What, you think those fabulous musical numbers just happen?) Read on for her scoop from the set—and if you haven't already, watch "Smash"'s pilot episode for free right now on nbc.com!

When did you first hear about "Smash"?

Well, last pilot season, I was looking through all the new scripts, and this one stuck out like a sore thumb—it seemed too good to be true to have a TV show about the world I grew up in! But I was a little nervous. The role they wanted me to go out for was a big dancing part, and while I took dance classes all through high school and college and am a pretty good mover, I’ve never called myself a dancer—it’s never been my forte. Luckily, they hired this incredible choreographer, Josh Bergasse [read DS's interview with Bergasse in our February issue!]. He's our secret weapon—I swear, he's going to be the biggest star of out of everybody on the show. He does such an incredible job of telling a story through movement. And he makes me look like I know what I’m doing.

I kept seeing familiar Broadway faces pop up in the pilot. Does having lots of Broadway veterans on set help "Smash" feel more authentic?

Absolutely—and it’s great that I get to do this show with all my friends! I love showing up in the makeup trailer and seeing people I’ve been on Broadway with, or done summer stock with, or gone to school with. "Smash" is doing it right: They’re hiring all the people this show is celebrating.

What makes this show unique?

The characters in "Smash" are people you’ve never met before. You can relate to them, but they’re not stock characters you’ve seen on other shows. They’re all beautifully flawed: They make huge mistakes, but you’re rooting for them at the same time. And of course there's the musical component, which takes the show to another level. Just as they do in a good musical, the songs drive "Smash"'s plot, expressing thoughts and feelings that the characters couldn’t just say.

Can't wait for the premiere of "Smash," the new TV show that gives Broadway life the "Glee" treatment? You're in luck: Though the show premieres February 6 on NBC, you can download the first episode RIGHT NOW on iTunes--for free!  (It'll also be available gratis on Hulu and nbc.com beginning January 23.)

Trust us: You want to see this show. Not only does "Smash" star American Idol alum Katharine McPhee and Broadway star Megan Hilty, it also features choreography by musical theater veteran Josh Bergasse. (You'll hear more from him in our February issue.) Check it out!

Dance News

The cast of "Smash" (Will Hart/NBC)

First there was “Fame,” then there was “Glee” and now there’s a new you’ll-want-to-sing-and-dance-along show coming to the small screen: “Smash,” from executive producer Steven Spielberg. The show is about a musical composer named Tom (Christian Borle) and a lyricist named Julia (Debra Messing), who are working to get a Marilyn Monroe–themed musical off the ground. Naturally, drama ensues: Should they cast sassy theater veteran Ivy (Megan Hilty) or doe-eyed newcomer Karen (Katharine McPhee) in the leading role?

We don’t know who will snag the spotlight, but we do know that any good Broadway-based show is sure to have plenty of dancing! Josh Bergasse, a musical theater veteran himself, is the show’s choreographer, and he gave us the scoop on what we can expect from “Smash.”

(Hint: “There’s tons of music, tons of dance and tons of drama,” he says.)

Dance Spirit: How did you get involved with the show?

Josh Bergasse: Michael Mayer, the director of the show’s first three episodes, saw my choreography at a benefit I did at New York University. A month later he approached me about working on “Smash.”

The first day of filming was so exciting. I had never been on a shoot that was quite so big! The dancers and I felt really great about the number we were filming, but I was nervous as to how it would read on camera. The footage is gorgeous—everything pops.

DS: How much dancing is in the show?

JB: Each episode has at least one big dance number, and some episodes have more. I have a core group of 10 dancers I use, and I call in more dancers for bigger numbers.

DS: What is the choreography like?

JB: It’s a mix of classic Broadway, contemporary, hip hop and old–Hollywood musical–style numbers. The script calls for all kinds of different things, like routines with Marilyn and the male cast members and routines at a hip and edgy rock show.

DS: The show includes some great actors but many of them aren’t dancers. Are you still making them dance?

JB: Yes, even the non–dance-trained cast members are dancing! They’re handling it beautifully and are having a blast.

DS: What is your advice for DS readers who want to dance on a TV show?

JB: Get an agent. It’s tough to get into some auditions without one. It also helps to be fluent in many different styles of dance. On our show, for example, you never know what style will be needed from one episode to the next.

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