To me, Thanksgiving means three things: delicious food, quality family time and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nothing says "It's the holidays!" quite like wrestling a turkey into the oven, while looking over my shoulder to make sure I haven't missed the Radio City Rockettes. (This has yet to end in disaster, knock on wood.)
So each November, I begin scouring the web for hints about the year's dancetastic performers. And I'm super psyched for what 2013 has to offer.
First, there's the pre-parade show, which features an assortment of fun dance numbers to celebrate the year's new Broadway shows. Get excited for excerpts from Motown, Pippin, and Matilda:
The Revolting Children from Matilda the Musical
In case that's not enough, we get a sneak-peek at The Sound of Music, Live!--an NBC telecast, airing December 5 at 8/7c, starring Carrie Underwood:
(courtesy NBC/Everett Collection)
The pre-parade show also features the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, who never fail to kick it up a notch:
The Radio City Rockettes perform at the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (by Taylor Hill/Getty Images North America)
After that, the parade procession begins (led by those ginormous character balloons..Snoopy's coming back this year guys!).
My favorite part of the procession? The various dance teams, who travel from all over the country to show off their spirit and skill in the Big Apple. This year, we'll be entertained by the South Shore Drill Team, Varsity Spirit Cheer, Spirit of America Dance, All That! (a clogging group that appeared on "America's Got Talent") and J.U.M.P. (Jumpers United for Macy's Parade).
Varsity Spirit Cheer brings infectious energy to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Added bonus: Cirque du Soleil is teaming up with Macy's this year to debut Dreamseeker, one of the parade's largest floats (which is sure to feature some of our favorite bendy acrobats).
Get excited! (And don't forget about that turkey in the oven...)
Does Jared Parker look familiar? That’s probably because he was the bespectacled star of this year’s Tony Awards, standing out among the “Revolting Children” of Broadway’s Matilda: The Musical. Until the role of Nigel in Matilda came along, 11-year-old Jared had been focusing on his ballet training at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. He already has dance credits like The Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake and ABT’s The Nutcracker under his belt—and now Jared can check “outstanding Broadway debut” off his to-do list, too.
Jared Parker with the Broadway cast of Matilda: The Musical (by Joan Marcus)
"I love the live audiences on Broadway. They react differently to things every night, so the show feels different each time." —Jared Parker
Age he started dancing: 5
Who would play him in a movie? “I don’t know. Maybe SpongeBob SquarePants?”
Favorite food: “I like bacon, ice cream, lobster and risotto.”
Hidden talent: “I have really flexible thumbs. I can bend them back so they touch my wrists.”
The best advice he’s ever received: “[Matilda choreographer] Peter Darling said to tell a story when we’re dancing, because otherwise we’re just dancing like robots.”
Dance idol: Ivan Vasiliev
Favorite dance movie: First Position
Must-see TV shows: “So You Think You Can Dance.” “I also like ‘American Ninja Warrior.’ It has really crazy obstacle courses.”
Dream dance role: Ali, the slave, in Le Corsaire
Advice for DS readers: “If anyone gives you a note, really listen to what they say.”
From fairy godmothers to lions, witches and outrageous wardrobes, the Great White Way has something for everyone. Here’s your guide to the greatest—and danciest—hits.
New & Noteworthy
Cinderella (by Carol Rosegg)
Cinderella: You know that story where a dowdy (but beautiful) young girl meets her prince charming and gets to rock a pair of glass slippers? The first Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical has furiously fast onstage quick changes, a flying fairy godmother and two hilarious stepsisters.
Matilda: The Musical (by Joan Marcus)
Matilda: The Musical: Roald Dahl’s story comes to life as Matilda, the bookwormiest kid in her class, discovers she has supernatural powers, bringing the audience into a fun and mischievous world of imagination.
Motown: The Musical (by Joan Marcus)
Motown: The Musical: Think VH1’s “Behind The Music,” stage-style, in this awesomely soundtracked show about Berry Gordy, the man who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
Pippin (by Joan Marcus)
Pippin: The circus comes to Broadway! Kind of. In this remake of the 1972 Bob Fosse classic, young prince Pippin embarks on a soul-searching journey—and director Diane Paulus has brought some acrobats along for the adventure. Expect tons of high-flying action on top of Chet Walker’s Fosse-inspired choreography.
Kinky Boots (by Matthew Murphy)
Kinky Boots: A straight-laced shoemaker’s son and a flamboyant cross-dresser team up in this ode to unexpected friendships. You’ll love the chorus of dancing men in dangerously high heels belting Cyndi Lauper tunes, plus you’ll learn an important lesson about acceptance.
Jersey Boys (by Joan Marcus)
Jersey Boys: Learn how Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons hit the big time while dancing in your seat to the killer soundtrack, which includes hits like “Rag Doll,” “Sherry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
The Lion King (by Joan Marcus)
The Lion King: You already know the Disney story of Simba and his jungle buddies—and the Broadway version doesn’t have a happier beginning (R.I.P. Mufasa). But the cast members in life-sized hyena, elephant and giraffe costumes will blow your mind. Hakuna matata!
Mammi Mia! (by Joan Marcus)
Mamma Mia!: If you liked the Meryl Streep movie, you’ll go dancing-queen–crazy for the original stage version, set to ABBA’s greatest hits.
The Phantom of the Opera (by Joan Marcus)
The Phantom of the Opera: It’s the longest-running show on Broadway and Act I ends with a bang (really): They drop a crystal chandelier from the theater’s ceiling onto the stage!
Wicked (by Joan Marcus)
Wicked: This show is consistently at the top of Broadway’s “most likely to sell out” list, and for good reason: The sets and costumes are lavish, the flying monkeys will keep you on the edge of your seat and the heartfelt tale of how Elphaba and Glinda—the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch, respectively—grew up together just may get you to shed a tear.
Fun for the Whole Family…
Lilla Crawford as Annie (by James Lapine)
Annie: An orphan girl meets her Daddy Warbucks, and suddenly it’s not such a hard-knock life. The cast of cute kids—and a dog!—will get you singing along and beaming from ear to ear. After all, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (by Jacob Cohl)
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: High-flying adventure, a love story and an original score by U2’s Bono and The Edge? Sold!
The Book of Mormon (by Joan Marcus)
The Book of Mormon: The F-bombs may fly at rapid speed, but the tap-dancing missionaries are adorable and Casey Nicholaw’s choreography makes this 2011 Tony winner for Best Musical unforgettably fun. Just proceed with caution: The show, created by “South Park” masterminds Matt Stone and Trey Parker, isn’t for the easily offended.
Rock of Ages (by Joan Marcus)
Rock of Ages: It’s the ultimate jukebox musical that’ll make you want to sing along—you just may not want to do so alongside your parents. The “small-town girl meets rocker boy” material is mostly PG, save for a few raunchy scenes involving a bathroom stall. We say take your girlfriends—or pas de deux partner!—instead.
Go for the Dancing
Newsies (by Deen Van Meer)
Newsies: Arguably the danciest show of them all, Newsies burst onto the scene last year to rave reviews and standing ovations (plus a DS cover story!). The boys in this cast jump so high, turn so fast and sing with such heart that you’ll be tempted to leap onstage yourself. Hey, seize the day!
Chicago (by Paul Kolnik)
Chicago: It’s sexy, it’s scandalous—it’s Bob Fosse on Broadway. You know the songs and you’ve danced your own version of the “Cell Block Tango”; now it’s time to catch the fishnet-filled original.
Several of our favorite shows on Broadway right now are super kid-centric. (I'm looking at you, Annie and Matilda.) Besides being insanely jealous of the munchkins who are dominating the Great White Way before they’ve even finished middle school, I couldn’t be happier for the stars of these shows. (Talk about a dream come true!)
And this just in: They’re all friends with each other!
I can’t get over the photos from Annie star Lilla Crawford’s 12th birthday party this week. She had it at Cake Boss Café, the new NYC bakery inspired by reality show Cake Boss (yum!), and the invite list included the kid cast of Annie (including February 2013 “You Should Know” Maddie Rae DiPietro) and the stars of Matilda: The Musical: Bailey Ryon, Sophia Gennusa, Milly Shapiro and Oona Laurence. Check it out:
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.
I am thankful for these puppies. So thankful for these puppies...
Between the turkey, the gravy, the stuffing, the desserts and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, there's a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.
But take a moment today to think about things in the bigger picture you're thankful for, like finally nailing your triple pirouette—on pointe!—or landing your dream role in your company's production of The Nutcracker.
We have a tradition here at the Dance Spirit office: I force everyone to tell me what they're most thankful for, and it has to be dance-related. In the [dance] spirit of sharing, giving and being grateful, here's what each DS editor had to say...
"I'm thankful I get to live in NYC. Yes, it sometimes smells like garbage and there are way too many people on the sidewalks at any given time. But it's also the city of Broadway, which is my favorite thing in the whole wide world. While we're on the topic, I'm thankful I get to chat with Broadway performers every day for my job!" —Rachel Zar, managing editor
"I'm thankful for Nutcracker season—and those are words I never thought I'd say. It took me more than a decade to go from 'I never want to hear that music again' to 'Maybe I'll just play a little Waltz of the Flowers to get me through my workout.' But here I am, rooting for Team Nut. It's a magical ballet with a magical score, and I'm seeing three different productions of it this year. Thanks for bringing me—not to mention countless trinas-to-be—endless joy, Nutcracker." —Margaret Fuhrer, associate editor
"I'm thankful for a job that combines my two passions: writing and dance. And I'm thankful for ballet class. Any time I get homesick, I just reach for the barre and I'm home." —Maggie McNamara, assistant editor
"I'm thankful I've been able to experience so many difference facets of the dance world—dancer, teacher, administrator and now Dance Spirit fashion editor!" —Meggie Hermanson, fashion editor
My beloved Matilda kids. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Me? I'm thankful for the Newsies boys, the Annie orphans and the Matilda revolting children on Broadway. I'm thankful for my dream job and the fabulous DS team that makes each issue so great and each day so fun. I'm thankful for the In the Heights soundtrack, which powered me through mile 15 of the New York City Marathon earlier this month, and I'm thankful for all those Sunday afternoons when I discover Center Stage on TV. And, of course, I'm thankful for each of you for reading Dance Spirit and sharing your wonderful stories with me.
October 31 is only four days away! But don't freak out if you haven't chosen a costume yet. DS has got you covered. Here are some dance-y costume ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
1. The cast of "Glee"! The show is coming to an end soon, so don't miss this chance to portray ditzy Cheerio Britney S. Pierce or preppy Rachel Berry. (Photo courtesy FOX)
2. Flash back to the 80s for a "Flashdance: The Musical"-inspired look. Only dancers can look this good in head-to-toe spandex. (Photo of Jakob Karr by DRGphotography)
3. Newsies. Seize the day in a plaid shirt, suspenders and newsboy cap. Add a rolled-up newspaper to complete the look. (Photo by Deen Van Meer)
4. The Abby Lee Dance Company. Looking the part of this "Dance Moms" crew only requires your favorite matching Jo+Jax shorts and top. Cold in those tiny outfits? Throw on a hot pink sweatsuit. (Photo by Scott Gries)
5. The many looks of Beyoncé. Because who didn't watch Baddy Bey's Pepsi commercial over and over on repeat?
6. The Bellas from Pitch Perfect. Get all done up in an up-do and scarf. Then get your girlfriends together to rehearse your harmony and synchronized moves.
7. "Revolting Children" from Matilda the Musical. Create your uniform with a grey blazer and sweater vest. Don't forget to practice your British accent! (Photo by Joan Marcus)
8. The Mob from Step Up Revolution. A classic black suit + killer dance moves = best group Halloween costume idea ever.
9. The next generation of hip hop! Channel our November cover stars in harem pants and a ton of accessories. (Photos of Emily Hoffman, Simrin Player, Taylor Knight and Jordyn Jones by Erin Baiano)
10. What does the fox say? Ring-ding-ding-ding dingeringeding.