Dancer to Dancer

Broadway Standout Jess LeProtto on His Dance Idols, Dream Roles, and Pet Peeves

Photo by James Jin, courtesy Jin

Jess LeProtto's fiery energy and jaw-dropping jumps and turns have earned him a place in the Great White Way spotlight. LeProtto started singing and dancing at age 5, and performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Nashville, TN, as a kid. He made his Broadway debut in The Boy From Oz in 2003, followed by stints in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Bye Bye Birdie. In 2011, he made it to the Top 8 on "So You Think You Can Dance." It was his role in the original cast of Newsies in 2012, though, that truly solidified his trusted-veteran status. Since then, he's performed in On the Town, CATS, and Hello, Dolly! Currently, LeProtto dances in the Broadway revival of Carousel, which opened earlier this year. Read on for The Dirt.


Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Ben & Jerry's lol

Who's your dance crush?

Georgina Pazcoguin: She's the cat's meow! I love her!

What's your go-to stress reliever?

Jazz music

What are you most nervous about?

Forgetting things

Who are your dance role models?

Gene Kelly: Watching him sing and dance in the rain.

Michael Jackson: Captured all the soul and groove in dance.

Baryshnikov: Combined dance and acting that I never saw before.

John Selya: Movin' Out changed my life!

Al Blackstone: The way he dances is movement for the soul.

What are the most-played songs on your playlist?

"New York State of Mind," Billy Joel

"Follow Your Road," Seawind

"Everyday Rapture," Sherie Rene Scott

"Peg," Steely Dan

What are your most-watched TV shows?

"Seinfeld," "The Muppet Show," "Stranger Things"

What are your favorite dance movies?

West Side Story, Singin' In the Rain, White Nights

What's something no one knows about you?

I know all of the lines to the movie Center Stage. ("Get out of my class!")

I also attend Pace University part-time, getting my BFA musical theater degree.

What can always make you laugh?

Dancing mascots, physical comedy, Martin Short

Do you have any nicknames?

Jessifer, Jessman, Jester

Who would play you in a movie?

J.T. Church from "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation"

Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?

Fell into the orchestra pit in Newsies during "Seize the Day," and climbed back up in time to hit the final pose of the number. I also ripped my bright green pants right down the middle in Bye Bye Birdie.

What's your advice for young dancers?

Research: There is so much to learn and read about. YouTube is a great tool for that. Always observe, take in and appreciate how other dancers interpret choreography. Be adaptive in the elements surrounding the movement (music, other actors onstage, setting).

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Italy, Paris, Australia

What's the last thing you do before you go to bed?

Have a cup of tea with a little after-show snack

What's your favorite book?

Lucky Man, by Michael J. Fox

What non-dance things would you consider yourself expert at?

Garage Band, paddle ball, awards-show trivia

What would you be if you weren't a dancer?

Teacher, orchestrator, arranger

Do you have any hidden talents?

I play piano, keyboard, and drums. Just started learning the bass, too!

If you could work with any choreographer, who would it be?

Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, or Fosse!

What are your pet peeves?

People walking down the street glued to their phones who don't know where they're going

What are your dream roles?

Cosmo, Singin' In the Rain

Eddie, Movin' Out

A-Rab or Action, West Side Story

Mike, A Chorus Line

Little Chap, Stop the World: I Want to Get Off

Anything originated by Joel Grey

What's your biggest fear?

Strange noises


A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Dirt with Jess LeProtto."

Show Comments ()
Dance News
2018 graduate Meredith Santoro in a shot from the PURCHASE DANCE x SUPREME series (screenshot via @issadancelook on Instagram)

Our story begins on January 3, 2018, when an account called @issadancelook suddenly appeared on the Insta-horizon. Almost immediately, the page was chock-full of artsy shots of SUNY Purchase dancers in their quirkiest, most stylish classwear and rehearsalwear. Barely half a year later, the page has an intensely engaged base of followers, and even mainstream fashion has taken notice—but more on that in a minute.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Lucky you! You get to spend a week full of dancing with amazing choreographers, teachers and dancers! As exhilarating as this is, you need to know how to get the most out of your camp experience in order to create those memories that last a lifetime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Fashion
Photo by Erin Baiano

Throwback jazz duds that feel impossibly current? Groovy, baby.

Modeled by Amber Pickens and Carey Segal

Photography by Erin Baiano

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Once competition season has ended, it can seem like forever until you're ready to compete again. Don't let the down time between competition seasons drag on. Dance conventions are an easy and fun way to learn new skills, meet inspiring choreographers, and stay involved in dance all year long. Showstopper's Dance Conventions offer dancers an experience you cannot get anywhere else. Here is why you cannot miss Showstopper Dance Conventions!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Nathan Sayers

Few things are more beautiful than perfectly arched feet. While us normal humans are on a never-ending quest to make our biscuits look a little bit better, some dancers are just born with gorgeous bananas. Here are 9 artists—from big-name icons to up-and-coming talents—whose feet are all kinds of #goals.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Screenshot via Vogue

Dancer and choreographer Sherrie Silver is living her best life. The 23 year old, who's most recent choreography was featured in Childish Gambino's controversial "This Is America" music video, continues to bring African dance to the forefront of pop culture with the help of Vogue magazine. Brooklyn is the perfect backdrop for this dancing queen as she breaks down five of her favorite Afro dance moves: the Gwara Gwara, the Hipjook, the Neza, the Snakula, and the Shaku Shaku.

Keep reading... Show less
Dear Katie
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm a lefty turner, and am more flexible on my left side than my right. My one-sidedness is especially noticeable because most people in my classes are stronger on the right side. How can I even myself out?

Camryn

Keep reading... Show less
Editors’ List: The Goods
Via @joandjax on Instagram

Summertime...and the dressing is eeeeeeeeeeasy. When you're heading straight from the dance studio to the pool or beach, you don't want to be messing around with complicated cover-ups. That's where these 5 MVPs of the romper room come in, bringing their breezy style to your pre-class, post-rehearsal, and everything-in-between looks. Oh, and three out of the five are on sale right now. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and romper-ound! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

The Soline, by Wear Moi

Via wearmoi.us

This oversized cap sleeve romper with a half zip in the front features four-way stretch and extra-comfy wide leg openings. You can get it now on Wear Moi's US website for less than half of its original price.

Just for Fun
#6: We're never NOT stretching. (Giphy)

Dancers are truly a special breed. And that means some of the stuff we do every day—stuff that seems totally normal to us—completely weirds out our non-dance friends. Here are 10 funny dancer habits we're guessing you can totally relate to.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
2018 graduate Meredith Santoro in a shot from the PURCHASE DANCE x SUPREME series (screenshot via @issadancelook on Instagram)

Our story begins on January 3, 2018, when an account called @issadancelook suddenly appeared on the Insta-horizon. Almost immediately, the page was chock-full of artsy shots of SUNY Purchase dancers in their quirkiest, most stylish classwear and rehearsalwear. Barely half a year later, the page has an intensely engaged base of followers, and even mainstream fashion has taken notice—but more on that in a minute.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Nathan Sayers

Few things are more beautiful than perfectly arched feet. While us normal humans are on a never-ending quest to make our biscuits look a little bit better, some dancers are just born with gorgeous bananas. Here are 9 artists—from big-name icons to up-and-coming talents—whose feet are all kinds of #goals.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Quad Squad performing their routine on the "WOD" stage (screenshot via YouTube)

Last night's episode of "World of Dance" proves that there's literally an endless supply of talented dancers in this world. We're on week SEVEN of Qualifiers, and each week, we're continuously blown away by the competitors. Last night was no different, as eight more groups (all of whom deserved to advance) vied for a spot in the Duels.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
The cast of All Styles (courtesy Shout Factory)

What do you get when dance all-stars like Fik-Shun Stegall, Heather Morris, and Christopher Scott join forces for a movie? That'd be All Styles, the new dance film that just might give Step Up a run for its money. And you can watch the trailer exclusively right here.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
USC Kaufman Students in Class (courtesy Glorya Kaufman School of Dance At University of Southern California)

You can still dance at a high level while attending a school that has no dance department. Just ask these two recent grads—their post-college careers bloomed because they took charge of their dance education.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
"My comeback on 💯" (via YouTube)

We've always been impressed by Ciara's very legit dance skills. But for "Level Up," the first single she's released since 2015, the star decided to create a dance vid that is actually on another level.

How'd she do it? By recruiting choreographer extraordinaire Parris Goebel and her epic ReQuest Dance Crew. We knew "Level Up" was a banger from the second we first heard it, but by their powers combined, Ciara, Goebel, and the ReQuest dancers make it into an absolutely irresistible dance jam.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Photo by Sophie Elgort, courtesy Isabella Boylston

Last year, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston decided to bring world-renowned ballet to her hometown of Sun Valley, ID. The first three-day Ballet Sun Valley festival featured stars including Maria Kochetkova and Misty Copeland, performing solos, pas de deux, and a world premiere by Gemma Bond. Audiences raved so much that the festival will continue this year, July 17 and 18. The talent list has expanded: There'll be 25 dancers from companies including the Paris Opéra Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and New York City Ballet, and the festival will again offer a day of free dance classes for local students. Dance Spirit caught up with Boylston to get all the details—and to find out what starting a ballet festival is really like.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Giveaways