Joey Haro’s never been easy to categorize. His parents are Cuban, but he looks ethnically diverse enough that he was called back for both the Jets and the Sharks, the rival gangs in the long-awaited Broadway revival of West Side Story. Plus, his boyish good looks contradict the maturity with which he carries himself in conversation and as a dancer.
Then there’s his wide-ranging talent. The 21-year-old is vocally adept enough to be cast for his ability to belt out high notes; a versatile enough dancer to execute hip-hop and musical theater moves with equal conviction; and a strong enough actor that he can now handle his star role as Chino in West Side Story, which requires him to kill the leading man each night.
But while Haro’s rise to prominence has been meteoric, it’s been far from effortless—or conventional—and it all started with a leap of faith. Two years ago, after his sophomore year of college, he decided to make a risky decision (one that’s ended less happily for other dancers): Haro left Florida State University to move to NYC to train and pursue his dream of being a professional triple threat.
Joey didn’t initially strive to excel at so many things. During his childhood, he only saw himself as an actor. It wasn’t until middle school, when he watched a video of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, that everything changed. “Suddenly music enhanced the acting, and dancing was another expression of the emotions,” he says.
His natural talent led him to stay in that world. He auditioned for the musical theater department at Miami’s New World School of the Arts and was accepted. There he honed his dancing and singing, along with acting.
“Growing up at a performing arts school helped you do just that—grow,” says Joey. “It was a safe space to figure out who you were with teachers who pushed you to your creative limits.”
Throughout high school and two years of college, Haro became a serious triple threat. With all this training in tow, within weeks of arriving in New York, he was cast as a swing in a regional production of the off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz—but it required a move to Chicago.
Haro went on for several parts during his time in the Windy City, but his life as a swing remained inconsistent. Sometimes he would be on for a month straight, only to do nothing but sit around the next. Plus, after seven months the show folded, and Haro experienced another professional reality: unemployment.
“I was sitting on the couch one day, and my phone rang,” he recalls of his return to New York. “People in the industry joke, ‘Pick it up, it might be Broadway!’” It wasn’t Broadway yet, but it was off-Broadway. The New York production of Altar Boyz needed a vacation swing, and Haro nabbed the job.
Since he already knew the show, he required little rehearsal and kept auditioning for other roles. His agent let him know a vacation swing was needed for Hairspray, so he switched from the pop dance of Altar Boyz to Jerry Mitchell’s ’60s style and nailed the audition. Even before he made his off-Broadway debut, he found out he was to start performances on Broadway in two weeks!
The ride didn’t stop there. While he was walking to the Hairspray theater for his final dress rehearsal, he opened an e-mail from his agent where he found the words, “YOU ARE CHINO.” After months of auditions for West Side Story, he could breath a sigh of relief.
All that Haro has known so far is the uncertain life of a swing. With West Side Story, he’ll have the chance to develop a character in a classic with lyrics by Sondheim, the artist who inspired his love of the craft.
“It’s the stuff you dream about,” Joey admits. “I’m not going to be the replacement anymore! To think that I’m 21 years old, I would be a senior in college, and I just came here on a gut instinct, and everything fell right into place. It’s absurd!”
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.