All the Scoop on the Super-Dancey New Movie 'The Greatest Showman'
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.
What's the choreography in the film like?
It's a mixture of classic musical theater, old MGM movies, and commercial and pop dancing. I love all the old-style films, and it's a period film, but we still wanted to keep it relevant with the choreography and the music.
Tell us a little bit about the filming process.
This film has been a long time in the making. We've been working on it for seven years. Once the film got green-lit, we did eight weeks of rehearsal in a studio. We didn't have that much time to rehearse on set beforehand, so choreography got changed day-of quite a lot, which is typical for working on film.
As a choreographer, do you find having to change your work on the spot nerve-racking or exciting?
I quite like it. I'm so used to that kind of environment, and to working with Michael Gracey, the director. If I knew it was coming beforehand, I would probably feel sick, but when it just happens on the spot I'm good.
What type of dancers did you cast for this project?
This film is great because the dancers are all individual characters. It was an awesome opportunity to get so many different people of so many different styles. Some were more hip-hop–proficient and some were more contemporary- and jazz-focused.
Did you find it hard to work with stars who had less formal dance training?
Yeah, but we trained them a lot, so we could get them to a great level. And I built the numbers around them. We'd rehearse with the dancers, and then I'd rehearse with the actor in the scene. Hugh was killing me because he just wanted to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse—he's such a hard worker. He was keeping up with all of them.
DS: What are you most excited for people to see in the film?
It's such a compelling story. The film inspires people to say, 'Take me for what I am.' I hope kids walk away feeling empowered.
A version of this story appeared in the December 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Circus Comes to Town."
Dance Spirit is beyond excited to announce the first round of 2017 Future Star winners! Every year, DS partners with competitions to recognize dancers with exceptional presence and ability. The second round of winners will be featured in our January issue, so stay tuned!
You're obsessed with class videos. We're obsessed with class videos. The passion, energy, and talent showcased in these clips, which give us an insider-y peek at the commercial dance world's hottest classes, are totally irresistible.
But at what point does the phenomenon go from being a good thing to a bad thing for dancers and the dance world? Is the focus on filming distracting from the work dancers are supposed to be doing in class? Are overproduced videos presenting a dangerously misleading picture of the dance world? Is the pressure to be a class video star becoming too much for dancers to handle? These are some of the questions A-list dancer and choreographer Ian Eastwood—no stranger to the class video himself—has been asking on Twitter. And they've sparked a lively, important debate.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Our favorite drama-filled, dance reality show may have ended this past fall, but "Dance Moms" stars Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall aren't about to let that end their dance careers. In fact, these dancing kweens are taking their moves to a city near you with their Irreplaceables Tour! The girls are going all out for the three-week dance production, which is taking them across the country. And these dazzling dancers aren't just content with showing off their dance skillz—they want to pass along their tips and tricks in a dance workshop where they'll lead fans in stretches and dance routines from the show.
Dance Spirit caught up with Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall to find out what they love about tour life and where they see themselves five years from now.
When most of us think of The Nutcracker, we imagine a growing Christmas tree, dancing mice, and a little girl named Clara (or Marie) traveling to the Land of Sweets. But companies around the world have been reinventing the holiday classic, changing the storyline or adding their own spectacular sets and characters. To get in the Nutcracker spirit this season, check out these out-of-the-box productions.
Aspiring ballerina Katarina Jakimier, a Dallas, TX, native, was just 12 when Dance Spirit first featured her, highlighting the innovative pointe shoe recycling program she created in her community. Now 16, Jakimier is still studying ballet intensively—this past fall she started training at the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany—and is still on a mission to make the world a better place. Recently, she founded the Silver Swans Ballet Program, which allows senior citizens in retirement homes to experience the magic of ballet, and to reap all of its health benefits. Here, she tells us how the initiative came to be. —Courtney Bowers