On April 24, Kate and I went to “Breakthrough 2007”—the gala benefit for the 37 talented youngARTS winners at the Ziegfeld Theatre in NYC. (Remember we profiled three awesome finalists in April’s issue?) You will never believe the mind-blowing artists who presented these high school students with their awards: Mikhail Baryshnikov, film director Martin Scorsese, playwright Edward Albee (we sat next to him in the lobby without knowing it was him!), actor/writer Anna Deavere Smith, architect Frank Gehry, visual artists Julian Schnabel and Yaacov Agam, photographer Mark Seliger and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. So here’s our advice: Work hard in the studio this year, and next year, you could be walking across that stage to accept your award from Misha! MOG!
We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.
We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.
"Bunheads," available on Hulu<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3NzUzOS9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NDg0ODEzMH0.ZBaYM4aPKr54-uoX4QMIFLPf_-EnWS1fqqgG0ZEVn48/img.gif?width=980" id="2534c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3abb5140a15b41e8b52f6ce2d96c2289" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>TBH, we're still not over the premature cancellation of this iconic Amy Sherman-Palladino show. But if you're a fan of ballet, "Gilmore Girls," or Sutton Foster (what a combo!), this is the show for you—and it's streaming now on Hulu. </p>
"Dance Moms," available on Hulu<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3NzU3NC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzYxNzkxNH0.Yifnks1CZvo-8LKrvkJ54xXQD0S1zNV_FaeNnzfRCfk/img.gif?width=980" id="95b81" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2b2a0637a4e2134a04ed0ee344af0183" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>You've probably already seen every episode of "Dance Moms." After all, who wasn't an Abby Lee Dance Company fangirl growing up? But if you're bored in the house, there's no better time to <a href="http://www.justjaredjr.com/2020/04/10/jojo-siwa-recreates-iconic-dance-moms-scene-watch/" target="_blank">revisit some of your fave "Dance Moms" memories</a>. Seasons 1, 2, 6, and 7 are all available on Hulu.</p>
"Pose," available on Netflix<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3NzU4Mi9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODAwMzYzMX0.MS76C7-ZLFJj8bSz7PHQgWBHl2Hds6-OioaG_ighNjo/img.gif?width=980" id="5596e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5a0cb487cc1966be49962ab231b6b02" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>"Pose," created by Ryan Murphy (of "Glee" fame) is all about the 1980s house ball scene. Starring Broadway icon Billy Porter, this show is fun, fabulous, and important—it explores the experiences of people of color and LGBTQ+ people who were often excluded from the ball scene. Catch up with "Pose" on Netflix. </p>
"Fosse/Verdon," available on Hulu<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3NzU5NC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTQzMTQ5OH0.vwwFNlHPrdwzfwlBgkaVk5eEq-0CaDhyf0i-h9xTK08/img.gif?width=980" id="3a5d6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="018099f96cbc534ed7f6e3a48a5baaf1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>If you're a fan of Broadway shows like <em>Chicago</em>, <em>Sweet Charity</em>, or <em>Pippin</em>, take an inside look at the life of choreographer Bob Fosse, and his relationship with Gwen Verdon. Broadway babies and Fosse fans alike, this is the show for you—and all eight episodes are on Hulu. <span></span></p>
"Breaking Pointe," available on Amazon Prime<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3NzcxOS9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTMxNjA2OH0.VVp4OyjpHVgjcUB6Z99gQDwEm-ywES6QZCpX9qhl_uk/img.gif?width=980" id="27b20" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a79e69ab2f095353f8c550ea05d52631" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>If you've ever wondered what it's <em>really </em>like to dance with a major ballet company, you need to check out "Breaking Pointe," which went behind the scenes with dancers at Ballet West. We will forever love this show for introducing us to the beautiful Beckanne Sisk—and her to-die-for feet. You can purchase the first season of "Breaking Pointe" on Amazon Prime. </p>
Whether you first watched it in a theater two decades ago or on Netflix last week, odds are you feel a deep connection to Center Stage. The cult classic, which premiered May 12, 2000, is arguably the greatest dance film ever made. (Dance obsessives might take issue with the "cult" before "classic," not to mention the "dance" before "film.") Jody Sawyer's ballet journey—which combines oh-wow-I've-had-those-blisters realism with wait-does-she-have-magic-color-changing-pointe-shoes fantasy—stands the test of time, early-aughts fashion be darned. We've memorized its highly quotable lines, laughed with (and, gently, at) its heroes, and been inspired by its sincere love of dance and dancers.
To celebrate Center Stage's 20th anniversary, we asked five of its dance stars to talk through their memories of the filming process. Here are their stories of on-set bonding, post-puke kissing scenes, and life imitating art imitating life.
Real-life besties Sascha Radetsky (left) and Ethan Stiefel—aka Charlie and Cooper—reminiscing on Center Stage, 20 years later (Photo by Joe Carrotta)
On the Audition Process<p><strong>Ethan Stiefel (Cooper Nielson): </strong>I walked into the American Ballet Theatre studios at 890 Broadway one day, and I had one of those yellow slips in my mail cubbyhole that just said, "Laurence Mark. Columbia Pictures. Please call." Out of nowhere. And I called, and Larry—one of the film's producers—answered directly. He was super-knowledgeable about dance, and had seen me perform a couple of times. He was a fan. He said Columbia was working on a dance film, and he thought I'd be a good fit for it. I was a little taken aback—there aren't that many dance movies made, period—but of course I was interested. I mean, what an opportunity.</p><p><strong>Sascha Radetsky (Charlie):</strong> Ethan and I were buddies from way back. We met when we were kids at a summer intensive—I was 11 and he was 15, I think? But we ended up in ABT together. And I remember in maybe January of 1999, Ethan saying, "Oh, yeah, I'm doing this movie." It sounded like it was written for him.</p><p><strong>Erin Baiano (American Ballet Academy student):</strong> Yeah, I heard the whole thing was a star vehicle for Ethan.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> I didn't hear that!</p><p><strong>Julie Kent (Kathleen Donahue):</strong> I remember Ethan mentioning to me, when we were doing a guest appearance in Japan, that he had just been to California to meet with a director about a possible film. It all sounded exciting, but kind of vague. And then, some months later, he said that they wanted me to read for a part.</p><p><strong>Amanda Schull (Jody Sawyer):</strong> For me, it was a bit of a life-imitating-art situation. I was in my last year at San Francisco Ballet School, and we were rehearsing for our end-of-year showcase, which was an opportunity for Helgi [Tomasson, SFB's artistic director] and other company directors to see us perform. Helgi's assistant came into a rehearsal and whispered something to the choreographer of the piece, who had a very dry sense of humor—she said something like, "We're going to have a fancy Hollywood producer watching us today." I immediately perked up. I happened to have one of the leads in this ballet, and I turned it ON. At the end, Helgi's assistant gave me a script—my hamming it up had caught the producer's attention. The next day, I read my scenes for the producer between rehearsals, while I was beet-red and sweaty. I was reading for Jody and Maureen, but I said to the producer, "You know, I actually like the Jody role more." How totally embarrassing, in hindsight! But I found out later that afterward, the producer had called the casting director and said, "I found Jody Sawyer."</p>
Amanda Schull with director Nicholas Hytner (courtesy Schull)
Schull (center) in the now-iconic Center Stage foutté sequence (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
On the First Days On Set, and Adjusting to Acting<p><strong>Schull:</strong> Before filming began, we rehearsed the jazz number in New York with [choreographer] Susan Stroman and her wonderful assistants, and the ballet numbers. They put me up in an apartment near Lincoln Center. I felt very glamorous.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> Stroman was directing [Tony-award–winning musical] <em>Contact</em> at that point, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, and so we had some of our rehearsals there.</p><p><strong>Schull:</strong> The guys were still in season at ABT at the beginning of the rehearsal period, so I started on my own at first. And thank goodness, because I was nowhere near as quick a learner or strong a dancer as Ethan and Sascha. Once they joined the rehearsals, I remember being shocked at how fast they learned everything. It was <em>nothing</em> to them to pick up these ballets. Also, seeing Ethan's feet up close for the first time—I was totally gobsmacked.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> Stroman was brilliant, choreographing the Cooper Nielson ballet. She'd never really worked with ballet dancers before, but she had a great handle on the structure and a sense of the feeling she wanted for each passage. Then she'd allow us the freedom to suggest things—"Is there something specific you can think of for this spot?" I'm also pretty sure the motorcycle didn't exist in the Cooper ballet until I was cast. [Stiefel is, famously, a motorcycle enthusiast.]</p>
Schull and Stiefel filming the motorcycle scene (courtesy Schull)
Schull and Radetsky (left) with Shakiem Evans and Victoria Born (aka Erik and Emily) in a scene from the film (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
On the Dance Scenes<p><strong>Schull: </strong>Since I didn't have an acting background, scenes with heavy emotional dialogue made me nervous. But the dance sequences were super-fun to film.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> I loved that they chose such sophisticated rep for the movie. How great is [Sir Kenneth] MacMillan's <em>Romeo and Juliet</em> balcony pas? And then George Balanchine's <em>Stars and Stripes</em> has a different sensibility in terms of its virtuosity and accessibility. You had everything from Shakespeare to a motorcycle coming onstage. It was diverse, and it wasn't watered down at all.</p><p><strong>Kent:</strong> We really didn't adjust the MacMillan choreography at all for the camera. That's one of the things I'm most proud of in that film: how they captured the excerpts from the balcony pas. They got it so well—the choreography and the sense of performance, the set design.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> They also filmed the finale from Balanchine's <em>Theme and Variations</em>, with ABT dancers, and me and Julie. And it was never used. I don't think I've ever seen it. Must be in the vault somewhere.</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> They were really smart about scheduling the dance stuff. For the classroom scenes, a lot of the [New York] City Ballet dancers had more time during that period of filming, so you'll see them in the background there. But then they brought in ABT dancers to do "Little Swans," since that was in ABT's rep.</p><p><strong>Kent:</strong> Filming dance requires a different level of intensity—not just the old "Hurry up and wait," but "Hurry up, wait, and then dance your heart out." It's hard on your body, to produce a high physical level of energy repeatedly, without being warm. But it always seemed like a good mood on set, a lot of really excited young dancers.</p><p><strong>Radetsky:</strong> We were so psyched just to be there. There was a bit of a learning curve for the crew in terms of filming dance, so I remember some takes where we'd give our best run, and the turns were great, but it'd turn out they were focusing on…the piano. [<em>Laughs</em>.] It didn't matter! We'd go again.</p><p><strong>Kent:</strong> Filming "She's a heartbeat away from tattooing your name on her…" —well, you can fill in the blank. That scene was funny, partly just because people didn't expect to hear those words coming out of my mouth. That's not really my personality! But you really do secretly talk onstage like that sometimes while you're dancing, so that was fun to shoot. Also, I kept thinking that at the end of <em>Dancers</em> [the 1987 film Kent starred in with Mikhail Baryshnikov], you see me getting a daisy tattoo on my butt cheek. What is it with these ballet movies that tattoos on the bottom is a theme?</p>
Stiefel and Schull dancing in "Cooper's ballet" (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Schull and Stiefel with the cast in the jazz class scene (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
On the Dynamic Behind the Scenes<p><strong>Schull: </strong>We were all quite close. It was like summer camp. The younger kids spent every weekend together, going over to one person's house or another. I filmed every single day for three months, and I still couldn't get enough of the people I was working with. I turned 21 on the set of the film, and they decorated my trailer with streamers and flowers and gave me a cake, all of it. I don't have anything scandalous or wild to share about that. [<em>Laughs.</em>] I just had the time of my life.</p><p><strong>Baiano: </strong>The dancers playing students and extras, most of the time, we were really just hanging out in the New York State Theater [now the David H. Koch Theater], which was where a lot of us worked anyway. So there was a weird, unfamiliar moviemaking element, but it was also our home turf, which helped us all get more comfortable.</p><p><strong>Schull:</strong> The more experienced dancers were incredibly gracious. At the very beginning, Ethan left me a voicemail saying what a good job he thought I was doing. I kept that for a long time. And I became close with Sascha and Stella [Abrera, now an ABT principal and Radetsky's wife].</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> The crew was super-great. All the dancers would work long hours and not be divas about it. We're just used to that, but I think the crew really respected that work ethic, since that's not always the case on films.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> The general feeling was that everybody involved really loved dance and wanted us to be successful.</p>
Schull backstage with the camera crew (courtesy Schull)
Schull and Stiefel filming the dance finale (courtesy Schull)
On Working With Famous—or Soon-to-Be-Famous—Actors<p><strong>Schull: </strong>The nondancers were all lovely to me, and I definitely didn't deserve it, naïve little squirt that I was. Zoe [Saldana, who plays Eva] had some dance training—her port de bras is gorgeous, actually—but she and Susan [May Pratt, who plays Maureen] had absolutely no ego about taking suggestions from the dancers in the cast when it came to making the dance scenes more realistic. Everyone was invested in making it as real as possible, not some Hollywood interpretation of what ballet is.</p><p><strong>Kent:</strong> Peter Gallagher had clearly done a lot of homework so he could look like he knew what he was doing while leading a ballet class—the mannerisms, that very specific physicality.</p><p><strong>Stiefel:</strong> Peter was great to work with because he's excellent at what he does, of course, but he was also very supportive and generous. I learned a lot from him, just watching how he went about it, how he would read a scene, the questions he would ask, the craft of it all.</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> What I remember about Peter Gallagher is that he would bum cigarettes from me all the time. Which made me feel really cool. [<em>Laughs.</em>]</p>
Schull on set with dancers (courtesy Schull)
On the Movie's Initial, and Ongoing, Impact<p><strong>Schull: </strong>I did <em>not</em> expect the attention that the film got right off the bat. That was really weird. We wrapped, and I went back to San Francisco Ballet as an apprentice—I wasn't living some glamorous, attention-seeking life. But I remember flying to visit my sister after the film premiered, and getting really motion-sick on the plane, and seeing these teenage girls taking pictures of me throwing up. The guy sitting next to me said, "Are you some kind of a rock star?" And I was like, "No…I'm the girl from that dance movie." [<em>Laughs.</em>]</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> All my friends were in love with Sascha. They were like, "Do you know Charlie?" And I was like, "Oh, yeah, we go way back." [<em>Laughs.</em>] Sascha was in a Mandy Moore music video! Everyone forgets that "I Wanna Be with You" was a <em>Center Stage </em>song.</p><p><strong>Radetsky:</strong> I mean, there are, like, clips of me playing on a screen while Mandy is singing.</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> No, it's more than that!</p><p>[<em>Editor's note: </em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErntJrtQGBg" target="_blank"><em>Judge for yourself</em></a><em>.</em>]</p><p><strong>Stiefel: </strong>There was a real buzz in dance when the film came out, because it had been so long since a major studio had done a dance film. <em>White Nights</em> was great, but a totally different flavor. And the diversity of the characters involved was new, too.</p><p><strong>Baiano:</strong> You get to see a black gay character, finally! It was approaching modern times. Although I do cringe a little today at how inappropriate Cooper's relationship with Jody was, not to mention the cornrow braids in the Cooper ballet, which are, uh, problematic. But it got a lot of other things right. It was part of that wave of great rom-coms from that early-2000s era. All the Freddie Prinze Jr. stuff, and <em>10 Things I Hate About You—</em>it had that same feeling. To this day, it's still so <em>watchable</em>.</p><p><strong>Radetsky:</strong> There's some perfect formula it just hit.</p><p><strong>Kent:</strong> You can spend your whole life as a performing artist, performing all over the world, and that's one thing. But to be preserved in time on film, a film people still watch—that's special in a different way. I remember, when 9/11 happened, about a year after the movie came out, ABT was on tour, I think in Kansas City. We had to drive across the country to San Diego, because all the flights were grounded. We were at a rest stop in Colorado somewhere and the waitress came over and said, "Oh, the people at the counter have taken care of your lunch. They recognize you from the movies."</p>
Stiefel, Schull, and Radetsky in the finale of "Cooper's ballet" (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
(From left) Stiefel, Radetsky, and Erin Baiano at their mini Center Stage reunion (photo by Joe Carrotta)
Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.
Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!
Here's the plan:
- If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
- Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
- At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
- 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.
Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!