Why I'm Obsessed with Pippin
Patina Miller (center) as the Lead Player in "Pippin." Photo by Michael J. Lutch.
Once upon a time, about 35 years ago, a college guy fell in love with one of his classmates. She was not interested, which made him sad.
The guy, being kind of artsy-fartsy, was a member of an a cappella ensemble. One day, feeling inspired, he decided to arrange "Corner of the Sky"—a song from one of Broadway's biggest hits at the time, Pippin—for the group. It was (and is) a great song, openhearted and earnest, with lyrics about the challenges of finding one's place in the world.
The guy sang the song at his a cappella group's next performance. The girl heard him sing it, and suddenly she began to see the guy in a new light. She started falling for him.
A few years later, the guy and girl got married. And more than three decades after that a cappella performance, my parents are still going strong—and singing songs from Pippin.
OK, I'm sorry. That was a lot of non-dancey mushiness. But there wasn't any other way to explain to you why I'm so excited about the fact that a new production of Pippin just opened in previews on Broadway. Thanks to Mom and Dad, I grew up listening to Pippin’s Stephen Schwartz soundtrack over and over on family car trips. Then, once I started dancing, I got reaaaally into the show's choreography, by this dude Bob Fosse you've maybe heard of a couple of times. (You guys: Watch this, right now.) In college, I even toned down my bunhead-iness enough to perform in a production of it. It's one of those shows that's defined my life.
Not many people are familiar with Pippin these days, but my obsession with it isn't unmerited: As we told you a few weeks ago, it's a great musical. And the revival has a circus-y twist, with crazy acrobatics spicing up Chet Walker's re-imagining of Fosse's original choreography. I got a sneak peek at the new Pippin, directed by the amazing Diane Paulus, a few weeks ago, and it looked absolutely fantastic. (You CANNOT MISS Patina Miller as the Lead Player, a role originated by Ben Vereen.)
Anyway, all I'm really trying to say is: Go. See. This. Show. It's in previews now at the Music Box Theatre, and officially opens on April 25th.
I'll see you there—and so will my mom and dad.
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
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I started dance classes at a young age. By the time I was 3, I was training at The Dance Club, and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventions as a mini, and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so much variety—I was in awe.
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
My mom was a dancer growing up, and she went on to become a dance teacher, so I've really grown up in the studio. I started classes when I was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.