The latest original musical to grace the big screen, The Greatest Showman follows the life and times of P.T. Barnum, and the events that inspired him to create the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus—often dubbed "The Greatest Show on Earth"—in the mid-1800s. Hugh Jackman stars as the entertainer, joined by celebs like Zendaya (who plays a graceful trapeze artist) and Zac Efron (who plays a circus performer and love interest to Zendaya's character). As Barnum assembles a dazzling spectacle of performers, the cast gets to participate in some epic dance numbers, choreographed by Ashley Wallen. Here, Wallen gives us the behind-the-scenes scoop on the film's moves.
Looking for some dance inspiration? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is beaming no fewer than FOUR works, including the beloved classic Revelations, to a movie theater near you this Thursday, October 22!
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims in Wayne McGregor's Chroma. Photo by Paul Kolnik
In addition to Revelations, theatergoers and dance lovers alike will also get the chance to view Chroma by Wayne McGregor, Grace by Ronald K. Brown and Takeademe by Robert Battle, AAADT's artistic director.
This screening is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ exciting new cinema series, Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance, which also includes performances from San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and New York City Ballet. Check out the news section of our November issue for more info.
To purchase tickets, visit fathomevents.com or participating theater box offices.
Shirley Temple—the child movie star of the 1930s, who, essentially, made dimples and golden ringlets a thing—passed away Monday night at the age of 85. This is big news considering the huge (and super cute!) contribution she made to the dance world.
When you were just a wee tapper, did you do your first routine to the tune, "Baby Take a Bow"? If you did, you have Shirley Temple to thank. At 6 years old, she starred in the film, Stand Up and Cheer (1934), and performed "Baby Take a Bow" alongside adult tap dancer James Dunn. Take a look (and wait til you get to about 1:15...she makes the most darling face ever!):
Awwwwwww. Did your heart melt? Mine did.
A year later she made more cinematic history by performing next to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the film The Littlest Colonel (1935). It was the first time that a film featured an interracial dancing duo, and it was so successful that they starred in three more movies together. Here's the super famous stair dance from The Littlest Colonel, when Robinson persuades little Shirley to head upstairs to bed:
Here's another great dancing moment from their third film together, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938):
You can't have a round-up of Shirley Temple moments without this ditty from her 1935 film Curly Top:
Or this number, "On the Good Ship Lollipop" from Bright Eyes (1934):
And did you know that to celebrate her 10th birthday, a restaurant in Hollywood created the first Shirley Temple, the nonalcoholic drink with lemon-lime soda, grenadine and a maraschino cherry? She drank the first one that night, washing down a slice of a 25-layer cake.
Let's all have a Shirley Temple today in her honor.
What do you do after you win "So You Think You Can Dance" and become super famous?
You go on to star in a dance movie, of course.
Plenty of our favorite "SYTYCD" vets (and former DS cover stars) have taken to the big screen—Kathryn McCormick and tWitch had starring roles in Step Up Revolution, and the dance casts in Step Up 3D, Footloose and Fame were packed with familiar faces.
Now, three more "SYTYCD" alums, including two former winners, are graduating from the small screens to the silver ones: Russell Ferguson (Season 6 winner), Chehon Wespi-Tschopp (Season 9 winner) and Witney Carson are all set to star in the upcoming East Side Story film, produced by David Winters. Plus, Brandon Bryant (Season 5) choreographed for the movie.
A bit of background: David Winters knows his stuff. He was in the original West Side Story production on Broadway and now he's making this film to show off an "all-star dance cast." The plot is based off Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, and it looks like the movie will be part Dirty Dancing, part High School Musical, part West Side Story and part who-cares-these-dancers-are-awesome.
The film is still in its infant stages and some casting is still being done as scenes are filmed. (We suggest following the film's Facebook page—casting announcements are posted regularly—and checking out the East Side Story website.)
Here's a local news clip about the film featuring our December 2012 cover boy, Chehon!
Whether you're a musical theater buff or someone who lives for the Step Up franchise, you have to admit that dance movie scenes are often (all too) representative of real life. Here are five of our favorite scenes that, despite being silly and/or fantastical, somehow manage to reflect how we feel.
1. Did you just get cast in your dream role? Ace a test? Is "You Can't Stop the Beat," from Hairspray, running through your mind right now? It's an amazing anthem to sing to yourself when you feel unstoppable.
2. The warehouse dance scene in the original Footloose is legendary. This is how we deal with casting disappointments when nobody's watching.
3. "Good Morning," from Singin' in the Rain is so cheerful that it's easy to forget the song is sung by exhausted people who have just pulled an all-nighter. But anyone who says they don't do a victory dance when they come up with a great idea is lying.
4. Does the audition scene in Flashdance perfectly capture all of our audition anxiety? YES. But like any successful dancer, Alex shows exactly why she's unique—and it wins her a spot at a prestigious art school. Also, her high-cut leo and legwarmers are everything.
5. "We Go Together" from Grease perfectly encapsulates our feelings at the end of the school year or a summer intensive, or after a show closes: We're both relieved and sad that everything is over, but we know we've had an amazing bonding experience with our friends and colleagues.
Want more Dance Spirit?
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!
From teaching on tour with NUVO Convention to leading the KaMotion intensive at the upcoming DancerPalooza, Kenny Wormald is in pretty high demand these days. Add in his work on films, like the recently released Love & Mercy, and he might just be one of the busiest dancers in L.A.
Totally righteous, dude! (From left: Kenny Wormald, Graham Rogers, Brett Davern, Jake Abel and Paul Dano in Love & Mercy; photo via loveandmercyfilm.com)
In Love & Mercy, a biopic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Wormald plays Wilson's younger brother (and drummer) Dennis Wilson. You might be thinking, A movie about the Beach Boys? Is there even any dancing in it? As it turns out, Wormald choreographed a scene that recreates one of the band’s signature performances from the 1960s.
How would Wormald’s hip-hop background translate to surfer-dude movement from that period? Dance Spirit spoke with him to find out.
Dance Spirit: Did you put your own personal style into the film’s choreography?
Kenny Wormald: Well, the producers and directors wanted to recreate the real performance to a T, so I couldn’t really add in my personal style. (And my style couldn’t have been further from what’s in the film!) But growing up at a studio, I trained in tap, ballet, jazz and hip hop, and that diverse background has given me a solid understanding of movement in general. I’ve benefited from being able to adapt to many styles of dance.
Setting the choreography on all of the dancers was really fun. It was a lot of goofy surf moves, which felt different for us hip-hop dancers, who try to be cool all the time. In the scene, I’m drumming and the dancers are behind me. We were cracking up in between takes. Just looking at dancers—like my best friend, Misha Gabriel—in short shorts and tight shirts doing all these old-school moves was hilarious.
DS: How did you prepare for the role?
KW: Luckily, there’s so much material about the Beach Boys I could study. I watched a ton of videos of Dennis drumming—and learning to “drum” was a lot like learning choreography. Dennis had a very specific style: Instead of crossing his arms, which is more typical, he played open handed. It always seemed like he was grooving.
Presenting the Beach Boys 2.0 (via @kennywormald)
DS: What was the best part about being on set?
KW: We got to shoot in an actual recording studio that the Beach Boys, Elvis and the Rolling Stones all used. That was definitely my favorite part. But also the chance to dive into this part—and to work so closely with Paul Dano, an amazing actor who totally crushes playing the young Brian Wilson—was so cool.
DS: How would you say this experience compared to a few of the other films you’ve been in, like Footloose or Center Stage: Turn It Up?
KW: My previous roles have certainly helped me prepare for this film. Real life experience is definitely the best acting school there is! But many of those films, like Footloose, were dance movies—my skills as a dancer were just as important as my acting. It’s been a dream of mine to do more non-dancing roles, so I loved working on Love & Mercy. Of course, I won’t ever stop dancing—and I can't wait for my next chance to do another dance movie. But I feel like I can call myself a real actor now, too, which is something I’m really proud of.
Love & Mercy, rated PG-13, opened in theaters on June 5. Watch the trailer here, and check your local listings for show times.