We all know Ellen DeGeneres is a major dance fan—she's definitely done her part to help bring dancers to national prominence by inviting them to perform on her show. I'm not arguing that an appearance by super-sibs Derek and Julianne Hough counts as dancer outreach (they certainly don't need any help with notoriety), but it's always good to see dance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"—no matter how low or high profile the performers are.
On Monday we told you that the Hough's MOVE Live Tour is back. Their appearance on "Ellen" was to drum up excitement for the tour—and we're definitely excited.
With their usual flair (and by flair I mean fringed crop tops and a drumline), the Hough siblings Latin-style-hip-hop-jazz-funk fusioned their way through a typically high-energy performance. Was it too much for daytime TV? Or was it just en-Hough?
Click here to watch the performance, and let us know what you think!
"Dancing with the Stars" kicks off its 19th season tonight! We're about to see the likes of Betsey Johnson, Bethany Mota and Alfonso Ribeiro strut their stuff alongside some of our favorite pros, including Witney Carson, Sharna Burgess, Derek Hough and first-timer Allison Holker. Color us intrigued.
But Carrie Ann Inaba doesn't want us to overlook the judging panel (which now includes, let's not forget, the lovely Julianne Hough). In fact, Inaba recently gave us the following "proof" that the judges are every bit as talented as the competitors. And host Tom Bergeron? He seems to be as quick on his feet as he is with the witty repartee.
Happy Monday, guys:
This Thanksgiving, two celebrity families served up a LOT more than turkey and mashed potatoes. Former "Dancing with the Stars" partners Derek Hough and Maria Menounos ("Extra") battled it out over Instagram in a Thanksgiving dance war. And in the spirit of the holiday, their families got involved too.
It was a bold move for the Menounos family to challenge the Houghs to a dance-off, considering they've got two not-so-secret weapons: Derek and Julianne. But they brought their A-game with some Flo Rida, T-pain and shades:
In a surprise comeback, the Houghs relied on their family charm, rather than a flashy display of their professional skills:
Who do you think won the #Thanksgivingdancewars?
The year 2011 was filled with show-stopping onstage moments and exciting offstage drama. Whether you were captivated by New York City Ballet star Sara Mearns’ 32 fouettés in Swan Lake or danced along in your seat as Sutton Foster led the Broadway cast of Anything Goes through a series of time steps, there’s no doubt you were entertained. Here are the people who kept us on the edge of our seats in 2011.
Sarah Lane. Photo by Gene Schiavone.
When Natalie Portman won the Best Actress Academy Award for her role as a twisted-but-talented ballerina in Black Swan, she neglected to thank her dance double, American Ballet Theatre’s Sarah Lane, in her acceptance speech. Later, Lane stood up to the movie industry by demanding credit for her work.
- New York City Ballet principal Jenifer Ringer danced the Sugar Plum Fairy role in the company’s Nutcracker, last year, and while most gave her a standing ovation, New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay remarked in his review that it looked as though she’d “eaten one sugar plum too many.” Ringer quickly became a role model for women everywhere when she went on “Oprah” this February to discuss the critique and proclaim that she thinks her body is just fine. So do we, Jenifer. Rock on!
- As if Alexei Ratmansky wasn’t already the busiest man in ballet, he just extended his contract as American Ballet Theatre’s resident choreographer through 2023.
- Company tours are a lot of work. This year Ballet Nacional de Cuba embarked on its first U.S. tour in five years, hitting four cities along the way.
- American Ballet Theatre principal (and star!) David Hallberg became the first American dancer to enlist permanently with Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet.
The Broadway production of Wonderland. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Everyone wanted to go down the rabbit hole: Productions of Alice in Wonderland popped up everywhere, from ballet stages (The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and Royal Winnipeg Ballet all showed versions) to Broadway (Wonderland was short-lived, but the choreography by Marguerite Derricks was quirky and fun).
- Apparently Harry Potter can sing and dance—or at least his real-life alter-ego can. Daniel Radcliffe drew massive crowds and rave reviews when he starred in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. No magic wand needed.
The Book of Mormon. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Book of Mormon was easily the most controversial debut on Broadway this year. The show, penned by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Avenue Q co-writer Robert Lopez and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, may have offended some audiences, but it impressed the Tony Award voters and took home nine honors, including Best Musical.
On the Comp Scene
- Joe Lanteri, executive director of New York City Dance Alliance, changed 44 young dancers’ lives this summer when he presented $2.8 million in college scholarships. Go get those diplomas!
- Selecting the DS Cover Model Search finalists is never easy, but this year there were three dancers who stood out: Kaitlynn Edgar, Maddie Swenson and Zoey Anderson. All three hail from the competition circuit, and all three were wildly impressive.
- Melanie Moore won the title of America’s Favorite Dancer on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 8 and landed on the cover of DS!
- When Beyoncé revealed her baby bump at the MTV Video Music Awards, she proved she runs the world—and so do her choreographers, Frank Gatson, Sheryl Murakami and Jeffrey Page. The trio won the VMA for Best Choreography for Beyoncé’s “Run the World” video.
- When Laurieann Gibson wasn’t throwing together award-winning choreography for Lady Gaga, she was starring on her own TV shows on E! and BET. We’re not necessarily on board with her screaming fits and harsh treatment of her dancers, but we do respect her moves.
Amanda and D'Angelo on "Live to Dance." Photo by Monty Brinton.
Paula Abdul’s “Live to Dance” wasn’t a hit, but it introduced us to D’Angelo Castro and Amanda Carbajales, who became the show’s champions. These tiny dancers won us over with their personalities and technique.
- Lil’ Buck may have been the coolest guy to get us talking this year. He starred in Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” video and helped make jookin’ mainstream. His “Swan” performance alongside Yo Yo Ma? Breathtaking.
On the Big Screen
Natalie Portman accepts her Oscar for Best Actress. Photo by A.M.P.A.S.
She may not have done all the dancing as Nina, but Natalie Portman’s Black Swan performance was definitely Oscar-worthy. Plus, she met Benjamin Millepied, her boyfriend-turned-fiancé and father to her child, Aleph, on set.
- While no one can truly replace Kevin Bacon, Kenny Wormald proved that he’s a stud with smooth moves in this year’s remake of Footloose. Plus, his onscreen chemistry with costar Julianne Hough made us want to drag our own boyfriends to dance class.
- In First Position, audiences get a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes action at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC. The documentary and its stars—Michaela DePrince, Joan Sebastian Zamora, Miko and Jules Fogarty, Aran Bell and Rebecca Houseknecht—received rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In Modern Dance
- Bill T. Jones + Dance Theater Workshop = New York Live Arts. We love a good collaboration.
- When Judith Jamison retired as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Robert Battle was handed the reins to the prestigious modern company. We can’t wait to see what he does with the group in 2012.
The dance community is a powerful force—and it's pretty awesome to see that force harnessed to support important causes, like the battle against cancer. Nonprofit organization Dancers Against Cancer (not to be confused with the equally wonderful Dance Against Cancer team) just released a compelling PSA featuring some of the world's most famous dancers, aiming to raise awareness about the cause in the lead-up to the charity's Industry Dance Awards this summer.
Featuring Derek and Julianne Hough, Paula Abdul, Chita Rivera and Vanessa Hudgens, as well as young dancers Ruby Kaufman, Chloe Frank and Ahna Rasmussen, the video includes a series of powerful mantras: "Cancer will not overcome us." "Our dance community is making a difference." "Together, we will fight this disease." "Pain is real, but so is hope." (Hudgens' participation is especially moving—she lost her father to cancer earlier this year.)
Derek Hough for Dancers Against Cancer (screenshot via people.com)
So far, Dancers Against Cancer has raised $500,000 to help dancers, dance teachers and dance families affected by the disease. Get inspired by the video below, and then learn more about how you can support the organization.
So, unless you've been living under a rock, you know a huge musical moment happened last night: "Grease: Live" premiered on FOX. And everybody LOVED IT.
Why wouldn't they? The production featured tons of our favorite dancers—not just superstar Julianne Hough, but also Karen Chuang, Haylee Roderick, Courtney Galiano, Adé Chiké Torbert and Jeremy Hudson (to name just a few). It was especially great to see the final result after chatting with Zach Woodlee, who choreographed the show's high-octane routines, about the entire process. The dancing was spectacular and the energy infectious. Seriously—we all hand-jived our way into the DS office this morning!
If you missed the premiere, don't panic—we've rounded up some of the best moments below:
If you were obsessed with “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live!,” you’re undoubtedly living for “Grease: Live.” The new production of the musical Grease, which aired this month on Fox, has a stellar cast (see below)—and is jam-packed with energetic dance routines choreographed by Zach Woodlee. Dance Spirit caught up with Woodlee to talk about the premiere.
Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough looking suave in a scene from the production (Photo Michael Becker/FOX)
Dance Spirit: What’s most challenging about choreographing a live production?
Zach Woodlee: Stamina. Our actors aren’t singing to pre-recorded tracks, and their voices aren’t “sweetened.” I have to get them to give energetic performances throughout the show.
DS: Talk to us about your choreographic process. Did you start from scratch, or did you revisit the iconic dance moves from Grease?
ZW: There are pros and cons to revisiting a period piece. I like to have movement reminiscent of the time. But giving it a fresh look by exploring today’s dance styles helps enhance the show.
DS: What’s the rehearsal process like?
ZW: Long and caffeine-fueled! Rehearsals are the most fun part of the process. Watching all the pieces come together and feeling the creative energy in the room is
DS: Which Grease character can you most relate to and why?
ZW: I think I’m the Blanche of it all. I can never seem to remember where I put things, and I’m horrible with a xylophone.
DS: What’s been most exciting about the experience?
ZW: I loved working with the creative team. Director Tommy Kail and executive producer Marc Platt are people I have huge respect for, and I’ve enjoyed going through this process with them.
DS: What’s the weirdest Grease fact you’ve learned?
ZW: In Mexico, the film was titled Vaselina!
DS: What’s next for you?
ZW: I hope this will help give me a platform to start dipping into Broadway, which has always been very appealing to me.
You know, it's funny: Just the other day, I was thinking, "Hmm, I haven't heard anything about Derek and Julianne Hough recently. They've really been flying under the radar, those underachievers. What are they doing with themselves?"
Oh nope sorry scratch that—they are LITERALLY EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES and possibly the busiest dancers in showbiz.
Luckily for us, their schedule is about to get even crazier. Because in addition to performing with the Rockettes and competing on "Dancing with the Stars" (Derek) and getting Grease-y and judging on "DWTS" (Julianne), the Houghs are bringing back their popular brother-and-sister show, MOVE Live on Tour.
How cute are these two? (photo via MOVE Live on Tour)
That's right: Last year's MOVE tour was so successful that we're getting round two, ladies and gents! Creative directors Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo will return to craft all-new choreography (YAY), and this year's production will also tour to more and larger venues, including Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Just like last year, there'll be plenty of singing and cute sketches in addition to allllll kinds of dancing. (Visit moveliveontour.com for ticket info and the complete list of tour stops.)
Derek and Julianne announced the tour today on "Good Morning America." Naturally, "GMA" being "GMA," they also played a game that involved Derek showing off his running man skills. So, yeah: You should probably watch this.