In a sea of angsty lyrical pieces, it's so nice to see choreography that makes you feel warm and fuzzy once in a while. At the A.C.E. Awards last year, choreographer Al Blackstone's submission, Brown Eyed Girl, was exactly what we needed: a big-hearted, witty, kind of hilarious depiction of a couple's online—and then in-person—meeting. It was such a standout, in fact, that Blackstone won the grand prize, $15,000 to put on his own show in NYC.
Fast-forward to this year: Blackstone's show, Happy We'll Be, opens tonight at The Roseland Ballroom. Based on what we've seen of his work—and the show's title!—we're guessing it'll be delightful, upbeat fun. The "dance narrative," as Blackstone is calling it, will have four performances through July 30. Get your tickets now—and get happy!
The annual Fire Island Dance Festival took place in New York last week and raised a record-breaking amount for its worthy cause: Dancers Responding to AIDS. This year also featured five new world-premiere works and more than 30 professional dancers.
Highlights included ballerina Wendy Whelan in choreographer Brian Brooks' piece First Fall, a MADBOOTS Dance piece in response to the Orlando tragedy titled For Us and the first U.S. performance of Cuba's Ballet Contemporáneo de Camagüey. Dance Theatre of Harlem also debuted Equilibrium (BROTHERHOOD) by Darrell Grand Moultrie and Dorrance Dance performed a jaw-dropping tap piece.
Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks perform First Fall. (Photo by Daniel Roberts via Facebook, Dancers Responding to AIDS)
The fest's iconic stage, overlooking the water, makes for a pretty stunning venue. And thankfully, for those that missed out, some of the dances have made their way to YouTube. Check out the highlights video first, then scroll down for a full-length performance of Al Blackstone's upbeat "Gay Paree" (a re-imagined piece from his recent hit Freddie Falls in Love) and appearances by Dance Theatre of Harlem, MADBOOTS Dance and Gallim Dance.
That's right: Blackstone's Freddie Falls in Love, presented by Break the Floor, will run June 6 and June 13 at the Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd St in NYC. In true Blackstone fashion, it's a charming, old-school dance narrative following the down-and-out Freddie on his quest for—of course—happiness. The fabulous cast of dance-actors bringing Freddie's journey to life includes Melanie Moore, Ricky Ubeda, Gaby Diaz, Jacob Guzman, Jess Le Protto and Chelsea Thedinga, to name just a few. And all ticket sales will benefit Dancers Responding to AIDS, which does such invaluable work in the dance community.
Even the show's poster is too cute for words. (via alblackstone.net)
"It's rare that a group of artists of this caliber can be in the same place at the same time to collaborate, and so when the opportunity came to bring Freddie to life, I seized it," Blackstone told Broadway World. "Not a word is spoken by the performers, but communication is what makes the show so magical."
The one piece of sad news? There are only two performances of Freddie Falls in Love. Which means you should probably get your tickets, oh, RIGHT NOW.
Al Blackstone is one of the fastest-rising choreographers in the industry, creating one successful piece after another. After making his Broadway debut as a dancer in Wicked, Blackstone won the 2011 Capezio A.C.E. Award for Choreographic Excellence, which gave him the opportunity to direct and choreograph a full-length production, Happy We'll Be. For the last three years, he's worked as Sonya Tayeh's associate choreographer, and his work, which often has a musical-theater slant, has also been featured on “So You Think You Can Dance." DS caught up with Blackstone to see what inspires his thoughtful and dynamic choreography.
Hello all you lovely, creative people! Are you possibly the world's next choreographic genius? Do you want $15,000 to produce your very own show? Of course you are—we've seen how much talent y'all have!—and of course you do. Which makes us especially happy to announce that the 2016 Capezio A.C.E. Awards competition is now accepting submissions.
Here's last year's winner, Kirsten Russell, receiving her prize. YOU WANT TO BE THIS HAPPY! (photo by Joe Toreno)