Dancer to Dancer

When NBC aired The Sound of Music Live!, viewers fell in love with the 12-year-old triple threat playing Brigitta von Trapp: Sophia Anne Caruso. This talented young actress already has a stacked resumé of theater credits, television appearances and commercials—including a national Campbell’s soup commercial and a guest appearance on NBC’s “Smash” as a young Norma Jean. But Sophia’s success comes from a lot of hard work: She trains daily at Broadway Dance Center in NYC, in addition to her voice and acting lessons.

photo, Maria May

Fast Facts

Birthday: July 11, 2001

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Favorite actor: Tom Hanks. “His performance in Captain Phillips really inspired me, and I’d love to work with him one day.”

Favorite dancer of all time: Savion Glover

Favorite dance classes: Justin Boccitto’s tap and theater classes at Broadway Dance Center in NYC

Favorite food: “I basically live on Jamba Juice, but I love it when my dad makes Italian food, like homemade spaghetti sauce.”

Go-to stress relievers: “Yoga and painting my nails”

Dream role on Broadway: Cassie in A Chorus Line

"I’m always glad when I push myself to take that one extra class. I’ve found that if I go in with a positive attitude, no matter how tired I am, I end up having fun and learning a lot."

Dance News

Do you guys remember "Smash"? I loved that show, although apparently there was a mixed critical reaction to its soapy plot line. I guess I never talked to any of those people, because I was surprised and sad when it was canceled after just two seasons.

As it turns out, there is a legion of devoted fans who have been lobbying (for the last two years!) to get some version of Bombshell, the Marilyn Monroe-themed musical that formed the backbone of the TV show, produced IRL.

Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty (photo via NBC)

It makes perfect sense. Cut the silly details (that, let's admit, make great TV) and stick to the musical itself. One small catch, though: Despite the fact that the majority of the songs in "Smash" were written by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman—the team behind HairsprayBombshell wasn't a fully realized musical. And funding is always an issue when you want to put on a Broadway show.

Enter "Smash" star Megan Hilty. She mentioned the idea during one of her performances, and the thing took on a life of its own. People donated money in order to be notified of ticket sales, which launched the history-making Bombshell Kickstarter. The campaign raised over $300,000—making it the most successful theater Kickstarter ever. The resulting show will be a benefit concert for the Actors Fund, and will premiere at the Minskoff Theatre on June 8.

Wittman told vulture.com that "Shaiman’s Facebook followers often ask him, ‘We want to put on Bombshell, can we get the rights?' And I say, ‘Well, there is no Bombshell…'"

Well, now there kind of is!

 

Dance News

Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez in First Date (by Joan Marcus)

It’s no secret that we love Broadway musicals at Dance Spirit. So when brand new musical comedy First Date came to the Great White Way, I was first in line for tickets. The super-clever show, still in previews, blends believable characters and smart pop-culture references to create a hilarious—and relatable—musical. It’s pretty impossible not to love a song all about “The Awkward Pause.” And you’ll probably find yourself nodding in recognition when serial-dater Casey (played by “Smash” alumna Krysta Rodriguez) sings, “It feels safer to rely on you” than to take a chance on love.

But this brand of witty/sweet really hits it big when combined with musical staging by Josh Rhodes (choreographer of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), especially in the production number “Total Loser.” This song imagines Google personified as a fabulous, high-kicking go-go girl, complete with a chorus of neon-wigged backups carrying iPads. Google Girl proceeds to taunt Casey and her blind date, Aaron, with all the mortifying factoids she knows about them. It may sound a little zany, but trust me: it totally works.

I won’t give away too much more of the wacky charm that First Date has in store for you. But if you need another reason to make your way to the Longacre Theatre in NYC, know that Hollywood cutie Zachary Levi plays Aaron (Casey’s adorkable blind date) to utter perfection. You’ll probably want to take him on a First Date of your own by the end of the show.

To get even more pumped for this original musical, which officially opens August 8, watch Krysta Rodriguez singing “Safer” at last month’s Broadway Rocks event:

It's lights-out for the flashiest show on network television.

The show's over for "Smash." NBC's Broadway drama was cancelled last week after two seasons. And while I know, given the verrrrry mixed critical reactions to the troubled show, that not everyone's upset by the news, I'll admit it: I totally am.

Yes, the plotlines have spun completely out of control recently. (Tom hooked up with Kyle and then Kyle got hit by a car and died?? We're in full-on soap opera territory, people.) Yes, Katharine McPhee, though one of the most beautiful people in the world, has about as much charisma as an overripe banana. And yes, somebody, somewhere on the "Smash" staff greenlit Ellis. Oh, man, remember Ellis?

But. BUT. How frequently do you get to see true Broadway-caliber singing and dancing on primetime TV? "Smash" provides a super-high-visibility home for some of our favorite Broadway stars, not least among them Megan Hilty and Christian Borle (and, though his character is totally unlikeable, former Newsies dreamboat Jeremy Jordan). The original songs, most of which are by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman—you know, the team behind a little musical called Hairspray?—are legitimately great. And the dancing! Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse and performed by a rotating cast of crazy-talented people including the likes of Alex Wong, Meredith Miles and Spencer Liff, it's top-notch.

I'll put it this way: If we could cut out the story and condense "Smash"'s musical numbers into a weekly variety show, I'd be totally happy. But that ain't happening, folks. So it's time to say our goodbyes to the little Broadway show that couldn't.

I wanted to let you be my star, "Smash." I really did. *sniff*

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.”

 

“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 winner
Eliana Girard (courtesy FOX)

From the wannabe-primas on “Bunheads” to the fierce comp kids on “Dance Moms,” talented dancers—both real and fictional—are all over the TV these days. So which small-screen star are you most like? Take our quiz to find out.

What’s your turning specialty? 

[a] A perfect triple pirouette.

[b] Powerful, super-flashy fouettés.

[c] Pretty traveling piqués and chaînés.

 

Fifteen minutes before show time, you’re…

[a] …already in the wings, calmly reviewing choreography in your head.

[b] …in your dressing room, singing along to your iPod as you apply another coat of your signature bright red lipstick.

[c] …backstage, offering words of encouragement to your nervous friends.

 

How do you master a difficult new combo?

[a] By practicing endlessly until the steps look perfect and effortless.

[b] By adding a few personal touches, like a sassy hair flip, to help you feel more confident.

[c] By observing other dancers until you feel ready to tackle the moves yourself.

 

What are your favorite jumps? 

[a] Soaring grand jetés.

[b] Switch leaps and toe touches—go big or go home!

[c] Assemblés, pas de chats and any kind of small jump you can do with a group.

 

You’re asked to improv for 16 counts. What do you do?

[a] Solid moves that show off your technique and your personality.

[b] Every trick in your arsenal, from high kicks to acrobatics. You want to be noticed!

[c] A combo of simple steps you know well.

 

If you were an iconic ballet character, who would you be?

[a] Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty:

the picture-perfect princess.

[b] Kitri from Don Quixote: sassy, seductive and sultry.

[c] One of the four little swans from

Swan Lake: Go, team!

 

In dance class, where do you usually stand?

[a] Close to the instructor, so you can hear corrections.

[b] Front and center!

[c] Any spot where you have enough room to dance and won’t be in anyone’s way.

 

What’s your favorite thing about performing?

[a] The satisfaction of executing a difficult dance flawlessly.

[b] The applause and compliments you receive afterward.

[c] Being able to share the joy of dance with an audience.

 

Your choreographer wants you to dance a solo at an upcoming competition. How do you feel?

[a] Not surprised. You’re a pro at dancing solo.

[b] Psyched! You’re finally getting the recognition you deserve.

[c] Grateful, but nervous. You’re not used to being in the spotlight.

 

How do you feel when your best friend lands the part you want?

[a] Disappointed at first—but happy once you realize your part is even bigger.

[b] A little angry with the director. You were perfect for that role!

[c] Ecstatic for your friend. You’re more comfortable with smaller parts anyway.

 

WHO'S YOUR ONSCREEN ALTER EGO?

Maddie Ziegler (by Scott Gries)

If you answered mostly A’s, you’re the LEADING LADY, like Maddie Ziegler from “Dance Moms,” Eliana Girard from “So You Think You Can Dance,” Karen Cartwright from “Smash” and Christiana Bennett from “Breaking Pointe.” You were born for the spotlight, and you’re always working hard for that next big role. But don’t forget, dancing is supposed to be fun, so try not to take it too seriously all the time.

 

 

 

Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn (by Patrick Harbron/NBC)

If you answered mostly B’s, you’re THE DIVA, like Taja Riley from “All the Right Moves,” Ivy Lynn from “Smash” and Sasha Torres from “Bunheads.” You’ve got the attitude as well as the moves, and you’re not afraid to show off! Sometimes it’s best to tone it down a bit, though: If your technique is top-notch and your personality screams “Book me!” you’ve probably got the job. And remember to keep your ego in check—no one likes a bossy ballerina!

 

 

Nia Frazier and Paige Hyland on “Dance Moms” (by Adam Taylor/ ABC Family)

If you answered mostly C’s, you’re THE BEST FRIEND, like Nia Frazier from “Dance Moms,” Jaimie Goodwin from “All the Right Moves” and Boo Jordan from “Bunheads.” You might take a backseat to the leading lady, but you don’t mind—you just love to dance! You’ll get your moment in the spotlight when the time is right—and when you really want it. In the meantime, know that your talent is worth showing off a little, so don’t get too comfortable in the back row.

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.

Dancer to Dancer

by Will Hart/NBC Universal

Lexy Hulme is living the commercial dancer’s dream. Since studying at the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in NYC, she’s been a member of the Dallas Mavericks Dancers, tangoed alongside Gwyneth Paltrow on “Glee,” performed in several feature films, toured with Glee Live! In Concert! and been featured in music videos for the likes of Sean Ono Lennon and Ultraviolet Sound. Soon, she’ll be tearing up the small screen as a regular dancer on Season 2 of “Smash.” Want to know more about this dark-haired beauty? Read on for The Dirt.

If you could dance with any performer, past or present, who would it be? Charlie Chaplin

Strangest thing in your dance bag: My entire red lipstick collection lives in there…

Must see T.V. show: "SMASH"

Biggest guilty pleasure: Cookie sandwich from Babycakes NYC (not-so-guilty pleasure)

Favorite food: Vegetable Bibimbap

Something most people don’t know about you: I’m related to P.T. Barnum from the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus!!!

Favorite city in the world: Paris

If you weren’t a performer, what would you be? Writer + Director

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Making art, movies & magic with the ones I love

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