The New Nine
This month, Nine, originally on Broadway in 1982 and revived in 2003, slinks into movie theaters. All three versions are based on Italian director Frederico Fellini’s 8 and ½, the tale of a director’s quest to find inspiration through the women in his life. Hollywood stars Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson and Fergie take over prime roles, and Rob Marshall (Chicago: The Movie and television’s Annie) provides his trademark stylized steps and impeccable direction. Here DS gets the scoop from associate choreographer Tara Nicole Hughes, who, along with her loads of choreography credits, is a Broadway and Hollywood veteran, having performed in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Chicago: The Movie. —Lauren Kay
DS: What’s the movement like in the new Nine?
Tara Nicole Hughes: It’s set in Italy in the 1960s, so we referenced that period heavily. There’s a go-go piece with Kate Hudson, as well as a showgirl piece with feathers and fans. It’s all signature Rob Marshall: jazz with a Fosse essence; very unique and recognizable.
DS: What can we look forward to in this film?
TNH: It has that electricity of excitement. The dancing is gorgeous—rhythmic and beautiful—and the music is inspiring. What Rob did between the Broadway version and the film, in terms of adjusting it and helping the material grow, is amazing. As we were working on it, we said we can see dance studios taking the numbers and reenacting them at recitals or competitions, just like they did with Chicago.
DS: How has your dance background benefited you as associate choreographer?
TNH: I know how to conduct myself within a rehearsal and I understand the process of building a dance piece. And, because I also dance in many of the numbers, I was able to wear a lot of hats all at once for Rob.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
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!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.