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."
Paloma Garcia-Lee (center, in gold) and the cast of "Fosse/Verdon" (FX)
The extraordinary Paloma Garcia-Lee, who's danced in no fewer than five Broadway shows, can adapt to any choreographer's style. And before heading back to Broadway this summer in Moulin Rouge! (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), she's tackling the work of one of the most iconic choreographers of all time: Bob Fosse.
Garcia-Lee plays Adrienne in the new FX limited series "Fosse/Verdon," premiering April 9, which follows the romantic and creative relationship of Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his muse Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams).Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steve Levenson, and Andy Blankenbuehler serve as executive producers, with Kail directing and Blankenbuehler choreographing.
With the exception of performing on The Tony Awards, "Fosse/Verdon" marks Garcia-Lee's TV debut. "I'm really setting my sights on more on-camera work," she says. "Getting the chance to flex my muscles as an actress in this different medium, but still have the dance part, is all really exciting." (She's got real acting chops, too: While a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she actually quit dance briefly to study acting instead.)
Dance Spirit spoke to Garcia-Lee about "Fosse/Verdon"'s epic final callback, how she got cast, and the transition from stage to screen.
The cast of Kinky Boots (photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy DKC/O&M)
Once a Broadway show officially opens, most choreographers direct their attention to a new project, and in high school productions, frequently the choreographer can't be present during the entire rehearsal process. That's where the dance captain comes in: Their job is to maintain the integrity of a show's choreo as originally set by the choreographer. "I'm always very careful about who our dance captains are because they're representing me," says choreographer and director Rob Marshall, known for the 2014 Cabaret revival and the 2002 Chicago film.
Working as a dance captain can seriously pay off career-wise. "It's a wonderful job because you learn how to run a show after the director and choreographer leave," Marshall says. "It's a really important position, especially if you're interested in something further in the directorial or choreographic world."
So, what are the steps to dance captain success? We asked pros from across Broadway to weigh in.