Yesenia Ayala has been a standout ensemble dancer ever since her Broadway debut in 2017. Now, she's stepping out of the chorus, playing Anita in the new West Side Story revival on the Great White Way. Learn more about Yesenia in her web-exclusive cover story, and go behind the scenes her Dance Spirit cover shoot below!
Yesenia Ayala has been a standout ensemble dancer ever since her Broadway debut in 2017. Now, she's stepping out of the chorus, playing Anita in the new West Side Story revival on the Great White Way.
It's the fulfillment of a dream that seemed a far reach from her childhood living room in Gastonia, NC. "There are not a lot of Latina roles, especially ones that dance and have such depth to them," she says, getting a little teary. "It's an honor and a privilege to step into these shoes. Anita is a beautiful character."
Well, it's official: Filming for the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story—choreographed by Justin Peck and starring pretty much all your favorite dancers—concluded on Friday. And while everyone knows that there ain't no party like a movie wrap party, there REALLY ain't no party like a DANCE movie wrap party.
Luckily for us, the WSS team had a 360-degree camera on hand at the movie's post-filming fete. And that means there's truly great video of all the unsurprisingly epic dancing that went down. Gaby Diaz salsa-ing with Ricky Ubeda! Ariana DeBose doing a saucy little "interpretive dance" with Paloma Garcia-Lee! Peck being totally adorable with Patricia Delgado! Jess LeProtto giving SO MUCH 'TUDE!
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
Steven Spielberg's much-anticipated remake of West Side Story—choreographed by Justin Peck, and starring a bevy of very good dancers—is in production, hooray! And that means it's finally time for us to get a look at the film's cast members in character. Let's break down the first photo from the project.
This is huge news, so we'll get straight to it:
We now (finally!) know who'll be appearing onscreen alongside Ariana DeBose and the other previously announced leads in Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, choreographed by Justin Peck. Unsurprisingly, the Sharks/Jets cast list includes some of the best dancers in the industry.
It's been a crazy few years for dancer, singer, and actress Ariana DeBose. After performing in Hamilton's original cast (where she earned viral fame as The Bullet), she scored a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Disco Donna in last year's Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Now, she's set to play Anita in Steven Spielberg's remake of the iconic West Side Story movie, which starts filming this year.
DeBose's star turn is coming at a time when true triple threats have become a rarer breed on Broadway, with shows favoring dancers who dance and singers who sing. But the multifaceted DeBose has always defied categorization—and her versatility has proved to be the key to her success.
Something's coming, I don't know when
But it's soon...maybe tonight?
Those iconic lyrics have basically been our #mood ever since we first heard a remake of the West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg and choreographed by Justin Peck, was in the works. THE CASTING. THE CASTING WAS COMING.
Well, last night—after an extensive search process that focused on finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican/Latinx community—the WSS team finally revealed who'll be playing Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino (joining Ansel Elgort, who was cast as Tony last fall). And you guys: It is a truly epic group.
Every day is another day closer to the new West Side Story film remake and TBH, we can barely contain our excitement! Who will star in those dance-tastic roles? Here are 10 dancers who need to be cast in it.
Every scrap of news coming from the highly-anticipated West Side Story remake has been nothing short of thrilling, tbh. First, there was the open casting call here in NYC for dancers to play the Jets and Sharks. Next, we heard the unsurprising-yet-awesome news that Justin Peck will choreograph the new movie. Now, there's possibly the most exciting news flash yet: You (yes, YOU) could play the star-making role of Maria opposite the dreamy Ansel Elgort as Tony!
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Rita. Moreno. Is. A. Legend.
As if we weren't already deeply in love with this rainbow unicorn of a human being—a dance and film icon probably best known for her epic, Oscar-winning performance as Anita in the film version of West Side Story—her appearance at last night's Academy Awards made us fall even harder.
Why? Oh, let us count the ways.
Ryan Steele has become a Broadway mainstay, thanks to his powerful technique and commanding stage presence. He's been a part of the original casts of hit shows, including Newsies and Matilda, played a Lost Boy in Peter Pan Live!, and performed in the first national tour of An American in Paris. A Walled Lake, MI, native, Steele started dancing at Dance Dynamics Performing Arts Center at 6. He began studying ballet seriously at 11, and was about to sign with Ballet Austin when he was offered a role in the 2009 revival of West Side Story on Broadway. This summer, you can catch him playing Jerry on tour with An American in Paris in Asia. —Courtney Bowers
Tonight at 8 pm, Symphony Space will host Impressions IV—an evening celebrating all-things-dance. Performers include Taeler Cyrus (After Midnight), Jess LeProtto (Newsies), Michael Rosen (West Side Story), Amelia Lowe ("So You Think You Can Dance"), Phoenix Project Dance and ICONic Dance Crew ("America's Best Dance Crew"), to name a few.
Oh, and did we mention that the magnificent Chaz Buzan—assistant to Mia Michaels and DS January 2013 cover star—will perform solos throughout the evening?
Chaz Buzan (right), with Mia Michaels and fellow assistant Ryan Ramirez on the set of the DS January 2013 cover shoot (Photo by Joe Toreno)
If you've never seen Buzan perform, tonight's your chance to find out why Mia Michaels affectionately calls him a "freak of nature." (If you have seen him perform, then we don't really have to convince you...do we?)
Impressions IV is tonight at 8 pm at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space. Click here for more info and to buy your tickets. Portions of ticket proceeds benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
And to tide you over in the meantime, here's a video of Chaz Buzan performing "My Heart," choreographed by TOKYO, at the KARtv Awards in Las Vegas:
What do you do after you win "So You Think You Can Dance" and become super famous?
You go on to star in a dance movie, of course.
Plenty of our favorite "SYTYCD" vets (and former DS cover stars) have taken to the big screen—Kathryn McCormick and tWitch had starring roles in Step Up Revolution, and the dance casts in Step Up 3D, Footloose and Fame were packed with familiar faces.
Now, three more "SYTYCD" alums, including two former winners, are graduating from the small screens to the silver ones: Russell Ferguson (Season 6 winner), Chehon Wespi-Tschopp (Season 9 winner) and Witney Carson are all set to star in the upcoming East Side Story film, produced by David Winters. Plus, Brandon Bryant (Season 5) choreographed for the movie.
A bit of background: David Winters knows his stuff. He was in the original West Side Story production on Broadway and now he's making this film to show off an "all-star dance cast." The plot is based off Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, and it looks like the movie will be part Dirty Dancing, part High School Musical, part West Side Story and part who-cares-these-dancers-are-awesome.
The film is still in its infant stages and some casting is still being done as scenes are filmed. (We suggest following the film's Facebook page—casting announcements are posted regularly—and checking out the East Side Story website.)
Here's a local news clip about the film featuring our December 2012 cover boy, Chehon!