Today the BBC is airing an interview with choreographer extraordinaire Wayne McGregor, who talks about how John Travolta's smooth moves first got him interested in dance. "I grew up in the '70s, John Travolta time—Grease, Saturday Night Fever, those were the movies in the cinema, and those were the kinds of dances I wanted to do," he says.
And you know what? Weird as Travolta initially sounds as an idol for the guy who's now resident choreographer at the Royal Ballet, I totally see it. McGregor's dances today have the same noodly fluidity that Travolta shows off on Saturday Night Fever's technicolor disco floor. Check it out—here's Travolta circa 1977:
...and here's McGregor's Chroma, performed by the Royal Ballet in 2009:
Am I nuts? Or do you see the similarities too?
Anyway, McGregor's interview got me thinking about what first inspired me to dance. Beyond a general love of tutus and all things pink—which, let's be honest, was definitely a part of ballet's allure for 3-year-old me—it was Gelsey Kirkland's performance in Mikhail Baryshnikov's Nutcracker that really got me hooked. PBS used to broadcast the production every Christmas, and I watched my parent's taped-from-TV VHS of it over and over. Kirkland's Clara is so impossibly light and delicate, the epitome of feminine elegance. (And that sparkly dress she wears in the second act—heavennn!) I fell pretty hard for her, and for ballet.
I never even came close to her ideal in my own dancing, but it also never left the back of my mind. First dance loves—just like first real-life loves, they make pretty strong impressions on us.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.