Tolstoy, Plus Choreography

Joe Wright's film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina hits select theaters today. While you've probably heard a lot of buzz about its stars—particularly Keira Knightly's powerful performance in the title role—you may not have heard that it also has some serious dance cred.

The story of a 19th-century Russian adultress who commits suicide by throwing herself under a train doesn't exactly exactly cry out for choreography. (Even the fabulous Alexei Ratmansky had a hard time making a ballet version of Anna Karenina—it met with uncharacteristically mixed reviews.) But Wright's version is darkly theatrical, and I mean that literally. It's set in a dilapidated theater, with action happening both onstage and in the wings. In that context, dance seems a bit more natural.

Wright called in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, a European darling who's made works for the likes of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, to choreograph Anna Karenina. You won't see anything as dramatic as pointe work, but his dances are central to the movie. Anna even first meets her lover Count Vronsky on the dance floor, in a swirling, heady sequence.

Gorgeous Alicia Vikander, who plays Princess Kitty Shcherbatskaya, studied for 10 years at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, and it shows. While some of the other actors seemed to struggle a bit with the more involved dance sequences (Knightley included, unfortunately), she's perfectly comfortable with all the waltzing and swooping lifts. She also apparently worked with Cherkaoui to refine the choreography.

The film is an interesting experiment, and while it's not always successful, it's definitely worth seeing. (Plus the costumes are to. die. for. Nothing makes a dance sparkle quite like Chanel jewelry!)

Get a sneak peek at all the glamorous drama in the trailer below.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search