What Inspires Broadway Choreographer Spencer Liff
Spencer Liff knows how to perform under pressure. Over nine seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance," the Broadway wunderkind has dreamed up number after Emmy-nominated number within the show's punishing under-a-week rehearsal period. You might not realize from watching his fast-paced, endlessly inventive numbers that "SYTYCD" was Liff's first solo choreographic gig, coming right after he danced for and assisted Broadway royalty like Rob Ashford, Kathleen Marshall, and Sergio Trujillo. Liff's choreo for the acclaimed revival of Falsettos is now streaming on BroadwayHD, and keep an eye out for his latest Broadway show Head Over Heels, hitting the boards in early 2018. —Helen Rolfe
Liff traveling around St. Petersburg (courtesy Liff)
Last March, I was directing a show in Russia and had two weeks afterward before I had to be back in NYC. I decided I'd travel to places I'd never been, all alone, with no itinerary or agenda. I went to Copenhagen, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Paris, and Amsterdam. I took pictures of paintings, images, and sculptures I found, and was so filled with inspiration for the projects I did next.
Classic movie musicals taught me so much. Every day after school, I would watch old MGM musicals the way other kids watched cartoons. I loved all of them, well known or obscure, and that style is ingrained within me now: the way Gene Kelly danced, the way Jack Cole choreographed.
Creating the opening number of "Falsettos" (courtesy Liff)
The design for Falsettos came to me in a workout class at Equinox. I was stepping up and down off of a box, like old-school aerobics. In the next production meeting, I told our set designer David Rockwell that I wanted 'March of the Falsettos' to be a black-light number with the actors marching up and down off of boxes, like an '80s step routine. It just goes to show how one tiny little conversation or sentence can spark a greater idea.
I was at a club one night with my friends, and I saw a girl standing on a pedestal, holding a flower. Over 30 minutes, in slow motion, she picked petals off this flower. I was transfixed by her and knew instantly I could make a dance out of that moment—like, 'He loves me, he loves me not.' I'd wanted to choreograph 'Maybe This Time' from Cabaret for five years, but hadn't found the story to go with it. When the next season of 'So You Think You Can Dance' came around, I thought, 'That's the story. It's about a girl who thinks she's found love.'
Liff (center) standing in for one of the lead roles in a "Head Over Heels" rehearsal (courtesy Liff)
My next big project is my favorite thing I've ever done: a punk-rock musical called Head Over Heels, based on the Elizabethan novel Arcadia and set to music by the Go-Go's. The dancing is new-wave contemporary meets '80s jazz meets Fosse. I'm excited to show off some big production numbers when it opens on Broadway in the spring.
A version of this story appeared in the December 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Spencer Liff."
You can never go wrong with a classic black leotard. Discount Dance's long-sleeve mesh leo will add a sleek edge to your studio style. Pair it with tights and a skirt for ballet class, or layer some leggings and sweats for contemporary class. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.
Sure, dancers definitely have some unique identifying characteristics. (We're all obsessed with Center Stage? FACT.) But we're also subjected to all kinds of annoying, inaccurate stereotyping. Here are 10 dancer stereotypes that we never want to hear again.
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
Last night was both the best and the worst night of "Dancing with the Stars: Athletes." The best, because one lean, mean, dancing machine of a couple got to take home the Mirrorball trophy. The worst, because we won't be able to tune in to "DWTS" each Monday to get our weekly dose of dance mania until the fall. But all good things must come to an end, and "DWTS: Athletes" was certainly one of the best seasons yet. The remaining three couples all brought their A-games to the dance floor for the finale, showcasing two dances: a traditional ballroom routine and a freestyle. Here's the final recap.
The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.
DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.
Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!
When Janet Jackson puts out a call for new dancers, basically the ENTIRE WORLD responds. More than 75,000 people entered Jackson's epic #DanceWithJanet contest, announced earlier this spring, which let hopefuls from around the globe audition via social media for a chance to perform with the icon.
So, out of those tens of thousands, who became the newest members of the #JTribe? Meet Phillip Galbert and L'Vala "Lala" Moss, the winners of the competition. Last night, they joined Janet onstage at the Billboard Music Awards. And they more than earned their place in the spotlight.
Last May, we told you about a special exhibition of the Mark Ryden artwork that sparked Alexei Ratmansky's sweet-treat of a ballet, Whipped Cream. Well, hold on to your tiaras, bunheads, because there's a brand-new exhibit featuring actual costumes from this megahit production. The Nutcracker's Land of Sweets has some serious competition!